KSU throwers go to work

Josh Echt

Flashes combine leadership, mentality with success

Kent State senior throwers Julie Ward and Donielle Swany are spearheading the team’s success in the outdoor track and field season.

Credit: Andrew popik

In football, linemen power the team but often don’t get the credit.

Throwing in track and field is a little like being a lineman in football.

“Field events can sometimes be compared to the linemen on a football field,” Kent State coach Wendel McRaven said. “They don’t receive as much respect and glory as they should sometimes. In our program, field events are an integral part of the team.”

Seniors Donielle Swany, Breann Smith and Julie Ward are a part of the Kent State women’s throwing team. They form a group that competes in field events such as the hammer throw, shot put, discus and javelin throw.

The Kent State throwers’ recent success in the outdoor meets has brought throwing and field events into the spotlight. At the recent Ohio Invitational, 34 of the women’s 109 points came from successful field events.

Ward said she can sense the other team’s fear over facing off against her team.

“It’s nice to go to meets and hear others say, ‘Oh no, Kent State’s throwers are here,’” Ward said.

The Flashes’ second-place finish for the women came from the strength of Ward’s victory in the javelin throw, Smith’s second-place finish in the shot put and Swany’s second-place hammer throw.

McRaven said some of the best teams fielded in his years at Kent State have had strong field events personnel.

“Field events are among the most significant parts of our program,” McRaven said.

The women said camaraderie and competition fuel their desires to do well on the team.

“Being friends with my teammates has a tremendous impact,” she said. “You know your teammates are putting themselves on the line, so you want to do your best.”

Part of the squad’s success this season could be attributed to leadership.

Throwing coach Nathan Fanger said he enjoys coaching Smith, Swany and the rest of the throwers because of their experience.

“When you have a group of seniors with leadership skills like that, you want to build upon that for future athletes in the program,” he said.

As seniors, the end of their collegiate career is only a few more meets away. The seniors’ graduation will have an impact on the team, McRaven said.

“They are outstanding, not only from an athletic standpoint but also from a leadership standpoint,” he said.

Swany and Ward said their recent success has helped them become better leaders on the team.

“Being a senior has put things in perspective because you only have four years to give it what you got,” Ward said. “You have to lead by example.”

Contact track and field reporter Josh Echt at [email protected].