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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Smith throwing the distance for UW

[media-credit name=’UW Athletics’ align=’alignright’ width=’336′]SPORTS_gtrack[/media-credit]

A year ago Taylor Smith made her mark on Wisconsin women’s track history, breaking UW’s shot put record with a heave of more than half a meter further than any Badger before her.

However, Smith was nowhere near her peak then.


Saturday afternoon, the Badger standout again surpassed the record at shot put, crushing her previous 16.25 meter record by more than three feet and reaching a new career-best of 17.36 meters.

“First I clapped, then I did a little dance,” Smith said with a laugh. “It still hasn’t hit me yet. I still think about it every day.”

For the senior, improving on her monumental throw last season was an attainable goal but was not one she expected to achieve heading into UC San Diego’s Triton Invitational last weekend.

“I did expect [to beat the record] but I didn’t expect it to be that far to be honest,” Smith said. “So it was really nice to know all my work paid off this year because I have been close to hitting it.”

Smith moved to No. 5 in the nation at shot put after her successful showing in San Diego. She stole the competition at shot put with her throw that was almost a half-meter further than the second place finisher’s mark.

Wisconsin assistant throwing coach Dave Astrauskas has worked with Smith on perfecting her technique all season long. After seeing her motions finally find a sound, strong rhythm, he knew surpassing her previous distance was a high possibility.

“It’s the hard work and dedication she has had in her first three years here…she has put her time in,” Astrauskas said. “And then also with her weightlifting. I think she is as strong as she has ever been right now.”

Shot put is not the only event Smith excels at for Wisconsin. She currently ranks No. 15 at discus, and owns the UW record of 55.48 meters, a mark she set back on Sept. 10 by beating the record she set as a sophomore the previous season.

Now, with a personal best at shot put achieved this spring outdoor season, Smith has her eye on the same success at discus.

“I really want to get a big personal record in discus and hopefully maintain around the 56-foot area with my shot put,” Smith said. “Right now I am enjoying shot put more because I am doing well, but I like discus because it is easier for me to throw.”

Success has been the dominant storyline for Smith in her four-year career at Wisconsin. As a freshman, the League City, Texas native was an instant highlight of the Badger team, finding she could excel at both discus and shot put early on. Smith completed the 2010 outdoor season with a personal best throw at discus to finish 15th in the preliminary round of the NCAA tournament.

After breaking the UW discus record as a sophomore, Smith went on to place ninth in the NCAA tournament at shot put last year as a junior.

Astrauskas sees Smith’s hard-working mentality as the key to her success and something that serves as a model for teammates.

“She leads by performing well at big meets and really started to come through this year so she kind of leads by example in her performances,” Astrauskas said. “[Smith] definitely does a good job of rallying the other girls and encouraging them through their tough times and good times.”

Working alongside Smith is sophomore thrower Kelsey Card, whose best shot put and discus marks sit just below Smith’s in the UW records book. Currently ranked No. 13 in discus and No. 40 in shot put, Card challenges Smith every day, and the two push one another to perform.

“We feed off each other’s energy at practice; we have our own little competitions,” Smith said. “Me and Kelsey are always neck and neck throwing, so that is nice to have that.”

But beyond the competition, Astrauskas has known Smith to be the girl who brings joy and a laugh or two to practice. He knows her personality well after having coached her in all four of her seasons at UW.

“She liked to throw, and she liked to have a good time,” Astrauskas said of his initial impression of Smith four years ago. “She always has a smile on her face. She is always bringing a smile to everyone else and is a jokester at practice and is just a lot of fun to be around.”

It is this fun-loving attitude that keeps Smith going throughout the season, believing that part of success is enjoying what you are doing.

“I feel like if you can’t enjoy the things you are doing and you aren’t having fun while you are throwing, even though you are still serious, you probably won’t get far at all,” Smith said.

And it is likely the smiles and victory dances will return again with the season heating up. The Badgers will host the Wisconsin Invitational this coming weekend at the McClimon Complex before the Big Ten Championships in two weeks.

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