Track and Field Preview- Throwers
Nov. 24, 2009
The Memphis track and field teams are gearing up for the 2010 season and are in the midst of the fall training regiment in preparation for the season.
First in the five-part series updating the Tigers progress, we preview the throwers
Memphis, Tenn. – Led by Steffen Nerdal on the men’s side and a talented trio of upperclassmen on the women’s side, the University of Memphis track and field program has set the bar high this season with its group of throwers.
“Obviously, I think the throwers are the staple of this program,” head coach Kevin Robinson said. “I started building the program around the throwers and right now we have Steffen (Nerdal), Knut (Syversen) and Seth (Major) who are the backbone of the entire program. Having redshirted those three athletes last year, I feel like they are ready to do some major damage this year on the conference and national scene.”
While the approach to fall training is similar across all event areas, the throwers are unique as head track and field coach Kevin Robinson trains the athletes for the four different throwing events.
“Our approach is to become as technical as we can with the goal to throw efficiently and correctly,” Robinson said. “Beyond that, we are looking to become the best athletes in the conference through our training. I think we are trying to learn how to persevere through different obstacles. Some of our conditions aren’t always favorable. From what I have seen this year, we have been very motivated and focused on becoming a great program and I can’t wait to get the season going to see where we are at in this conference.”
The indoor season starts next weekend for Memphis and the throwers have spent much of their time in the fall refining their throwing technique in addition to increasing their strength and overall athleticism.
“I am really excited about the throwers we have on both the men’s and women’s side,” Robinson said. “We have set the bar really high with the throwing program and I feel like we are in position to excel this year. Steffen is looking to challenge for a national title and Knut wants to maintain his conference title and improve nationally. All the throwers are looking to become All-Americans.”
The Memphis throws group features an experienced unit of four returning letterwinners led by senior Steffen Nerdal. A two-time All-American who was the runner-up in the weight throw at the 2009 NCAA Indoor Championship, will be a favorite to win indoor and outdoor championships this year.
Nerdal, who recorded a career-best and Memphis school-record weight throw of 22.54m (73- 11.50) at the NCAA Indoor Championship, has proven to be one of the most prolific throwers in program history entering the 2010 season. Having won two hammer, two weight throw and one discus conference title, Nerdal expects to win additional hardware this season.
Knut Syversen leads a talented group of shot put throwers after finishing first four times during the 2009 indoor season. The 2008 C-USA Freshman of the Year, Syversen set a personal best mark in the shot put and won the C-USA title with a throw of 17.16m (56-3.75). Syversen was a regional qualifier in shot put last season.
Harding Zills and Seth Major also return for the men’s throwing group this season. Zills competed in the weight throw and shot put last season, compiling six top-10 performances. Major redshirted last season and will return for his senior season looking to pick up where he left off in the 2008 season as an NCAA Regional qualifier in shot put and discus.
“Tom (Wilcox) was a highly recruited thrower out of Canada and he has thrown over 60 feet in the shot and around 170 feet in the discus,” Robinson said. “Tom should develop into another great thrower for our program. Andrew (Miller) has experience in the hammer and weight throws and threw 55 feet in the shot put and 165 feet in the discus. All those newcomers bring in great skill and attitudes and you group them with the upperclassman and they have no choice but to improve and get better.”
“The leadership of the upperclassman is irreplaceable,” Robinson said. “Anytime you can put a group of athletes that are as committed to what they are doing as this group of seniors. The leadership the group shows on and off the track, spoken and unspoken, is unbelievable.”
On the women’s side, Marina Vojinovic leads the cast of three throwers for the Lady Tigers. Vojinovic recorded four NCAA qualifying marks during the 2009 outdoor season including a second place, personal record toss of 15.36m (50-3.75) at the C-USA Outdoor Championship. Karmyn Clark and Angela Wigley also return for the Lady Tiger throwers. Clark consistently improved her marks during the season, finishing fifth at the C-USA Outdoor Championship with a personal-best regional qualifying throw of 14.37m (47-1.75) and also posted points in the hammer and weight throws.
“Marina and Karmyn were both regional qualifiers last year,” Robinson said. “Marina was only here for a semester, but she has improved substantially and has learned several different events this year. Marina will be a force to be reckoned with in the shot put as well as the weight throw, hammer throw and discus. Karmyn is continuing to work hard and develop her skills. She is looking to break 50 feet in the shot this year as well as improve in the weight and hammer throws. I think Karmyn will knock it out of the park this year. Angela is looking to finally crack that scoring barrier and score some points and contribute to the team performance.”
Nerdal joined Memphis Tiger All-Access for an interview on the upcoming season and the interview can be seen by clicking here. Syversen also joined All-Access for an interview which can be seen by clicking here. Vojinovic and Clark were also interviewed to preview the women’s throwers and that interview can be seen by clicking here.