Jan. 19, 2012
Since his arrival at Oklahoma four years ago, Brian Blutreich has turned the Sooners into a powerhouse in the sport. Last season, he coached Brittany Borman to an NCAA javelin national championship. In his four years at OU, he has produced 17 All-Americans, 12 Big 12 Conference champions and five NCAA runner-up finishers, laying the ground work for a program that consistently develops throwers across the board.
Leading the charge on the women’s side is none other than Borman. The 2011 NCAA javelin champion returns for her senior season with the goal of repeating as the national champion. Borman, a native of Festus, Mo., transferred to Oklahoma from UCLA and spent her first year in the program changing her throwing style. She’s bought into Blutreich’s system and it’s obviously paid off. Often compared to former OU All-American and current graduate assistant Amy Backel, Borman will focus on the javelin and discus this year with the hopes of meeting the Olympic standard in both events.
In addition to winning last season’s javelin title with a personal-best throw of 178-2, the three-time All-American has won three Big 12 titles, including the last two discus titles. She has earned six All-Big 12 honors and is the program’s record holder in the discus, setting the mark of 186-1 in 2010. Borman was the top collegiate finisher in the javelin at the 2011 USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships.
The top collegiate American in the shot put returns for Oklahoma in 2012. Redshirt junior Tia Brooks continues to improve. Brooks has already qualified for the Olympic Trials in the event, and despite being young, she will be a force this year. The Grand Rapids, Mich., native won the Big 12 indoor shot put title last year and finished second in the event at the 2011 NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships. She threw a personal best 57-1.00 at the indoor national meet. Brooks is a three-time All-American and has earned four All-Big 12 honors. She also holds the Oklahoma outdoor record in the event (59-0.75). This past summer she finished fifth in the shot put at the 2011 USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships.
One Sooner looking to have a comeback year is redshirt junior Karen Shump. The Media, Pa., native’s training is going well and Shump believes she has something to prove in 2012. Blutreich describes her as one of the best competitors he’s ever seen and it’s obvious by the look in Shump’s eyes that she has the “it” factor when it comes to competing.
The redshirt junior has four NCAA All-America honors to her credit, including a second team honor during the outdoor season and first team honor during indoor last year. In just two years of competing, Shump has earned five All-Big 12 honors and won the league’s outdoor and indoor titles in 2010, the same year she earned Freshman of the Year honors from the Big 12 coaches. Shump owns the Oklahoma program record in the outdoor shot put (57-2.25).
Shump finished as the runner-up at the outdoor conference meet last year in the shot put and discus. She previously set her personal best of 57-2.25 in the outdoor shot put by taking gold at the U-23 NACAC Championships in 2010.
Also looking to improve this year is senior Bailey Wagner. The Lake Villa, Ill., native has a great potential to score at the Big 12 meets and has made great strides as she adjusts to Blutreich’s system after transferring from Georgia Tech. Wagner along with Lauren Guerrieri, a Davis, Calif., native have each put in the time to have very productive seasons this year. The other senior on the roster is Fountain Valley, Calif., native Angel Togafau. Togafau is returning from off-season knee surgery and has the potential to score at the conference meet.
Rylee Rackley returns, hoping to see where she can help this year. The Sulphur, Okla., native has, so far, exceeded expectations and could be a contributor. Also added to the throws group this year is Ashley Kowalewski (Argyle, Texas) who makes the move after competing in the pole vault as a freshman last year.
A quartet of freshmen, Kate Foster (Mesquite, Texas), Brooke Garner (Tulsa, Okla.), Alex Morgan (Ventura, Calif.) and Sarah Tolson (Pawhuska, Okla.), provide a great nucleus for the future. The group has great mentors in Borman, Brooks, Shump and Backel and are working toward making contributions to the program.
Luke Bryant leads the men’s throws as a senior this year. The Clearwater, Kan., native won the 2009 Big 12 discus championship and has earned all-conference honors in the event each of the last three years.
Redshirt juniors Conrad Aaron (Ardmore, Okla.) and Holden Mitchell (Bartlesville, Okla.) also return for the Sooners. Aaron scored at the indoor conference meet last year in the shot put, finishing fifth. He took sixth at the outdoor meet to garner his second All-Big 12 selection. Mitchell has a chance to score at the conference meet in the hammer throw if he continues to improve.
A big piece to the future of the throws program is freshman Austin Perry. The Duncan, Okla., native is driven and had a good fall. Time will tell how productive he will be. He has the credentials as Perry comes to OU as one of the nation’s top high school shot putters. He won the state title in the shot and discus and set the Oklahoma Class 5A state meet record (67-8.00).