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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Throwers stand out in Pac-10

    The UA track and field’s men’s throws team has quickly become arguably the elite throwing team in a highly competitive Pacific 10 Conference.

    “”We’re the best throws team in the country,”” said senior Shawn Best, who is redshirting the current outdoor season to maintain eligibility for the 2008 season. “”USC’s a very close second, and UCLA is probably third.””

    It’s hard to argue with Best, who finished in sixth place, right behind teammate Adam Kuehl, in the shot put at the 2007 NCAA Indoor Championships in March.

    The Pac-10 represented four of the top six shot put athletes in the Indoor Championships. It also currently holds four of the top five farthest throws in the shot put in the outdoor season, as well as seven of the top 10 discus throwers in the outdoor season.

    “”We’ve always had a tradition of good throwers. As a collective group, it’s the best group we’ve ever had.””
    – Fred Harvey,
    UA head coach

    “”The Pac-10 is without a doubt the strongest throwing conference in the NCAA,”” said Kuehl, who is currently third in the Pac-10 in discus and fourth in the shot put. “”What won’t get to the (discus) finals at the Pac-10 (Championships) will win any other conference in the U.S.””

    The throws team, which will compete in the Triton Invitational today and tomorrow in La Jolla, Calif., has had a long tradition of excellence.

    “”It all started with (Sean) Shields,”” Best said. “”He was really kinda the lone wolf for a while.””

    Shields joined the UA track and field team in the fall of 2001. Before he graduated in 2006, he won three All-America awards and broke school records in the indoor and outdoor shot put.

    “”We’ve always had a tradition of good throwers,”” said UA head coach Fred Harvey, who has been with the Arizona coaching staff for 20 years. “”As a collective group, it’s the best group we’ve ever had.””

    The 2006 team had three athletes – Shields, Kuehl and Best – who could all throw beyond 60 feet in the shot put. This season, both Kuehl and Best have reached the 63-foot mark.

    In the discus, Kuehl has thrown 204 feet, 4 inches this season – but he’s still to reach his personal record of 209 feet, 7 inches.

    Senior Dan Austin is seventh in the nation with a season-best throw of 198 feet, five inches, well below his personal record of 208 feet.

    “”Me and Adam are probably the best shot put duo in the country,”” Best said. “”Adam and Dan are probably the best discus duo in the country.””

    In 2008, Arizona will add Zack Lloyd, the top National Junior College Athletic Association discus and shot put thrower. He will transfer from Best’s former school, Mesa Community College.

    Lloyd has cleared the 66-foot plateau in the shot put. He’s also thrown farther than 200 feet in the discus.

    “”Next year, Adam’s leaving, but me and Zack Lloyd could possibly be a 66-foot tandem, which would be huge,”” Best said.

    Arizona will also gain Luke Bryant from Clearwater High School in Kansas. Bryant currently has the third longest discus throw in the nation.

    The UA’s recruiting success is due largely to John Frazier, who coached the UA throws team for six years before departing after the 2006 season to coach the women’s throws team at Tennessee.

    “”Frazier was a great recruiter,”” said Best, who attended Buena High School in Sierra Vista. “”Arizona wasn’t even on my list of schools to come to. It was never even in my mind.””

    Current throws coach Craig Carter took over for Frazier after coaching at Utah State for 10 years.

    “”An opportunity for me to come in and continue that tradition, or even try to make it better,”” Carter said, “”that’s a goldmine.””

    Best, who has spent time with both coaches, offered a unique perspective on the two: “”It’s kinda like being the Spartans or being the Trojans. Either way you’re a badass, but you have different styles of doing your thing.

    “”Frazier would get you pumped, he was technical, but he wasn’t super, super technical,”” Best added. “”Craig, on the other hand, he’s got computer programs out here tracking every step that you take. His training is real precise.””

    Carter called his move from Utah State “”every coach’s dream.””

    “”Now I feel like I’m at one of the top throwing programs in the United States,”” he said.

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