The Mountain West Conference Track and Field Championships are taking place in Laramie this weekend. Shot Putter and Discus thrower Mason Finley is certainly a headliner. While Finley wants to do well this weekend…he also has his eyes on some upcoming meets. Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports.
BOB BECK: It’s a cold, overcast spring day in Laramie, with light snow flurries. But University of Wyoming All American discus thrower Mason Finley doesn’t notice. Finley is working on his footwork and technique as he practices under the watchful eye of his coach Paul Barrett. Finley is what you might call big. He is 6-8 and weighs about 400 pounds…but you can see that he’s also very nimble. Barrett says that’s what sets him apart.
PAUL BARRETT: His body coordination is kind of off the charts for his size.
BECK: Finley says his focus is not on his strength, but on his technique. Part of the reason he doesn’t have to muscle it is because the discus looks like a small sandwich plate in his hand. But when you watch him throw you understand that there is a lot of grace to his footwork and the spin before he releases the discus. (nat)
BECK: There’s not much noise when Finley throws. There’s not the grunting you’d hear from a shot putter. It’s all about how he’s able to spin his body to hurl the roughly four and a half pound disc as far as he can. Relaxation is another big part of it.
FINLEY: And just trust that my technique is gonna work and all my training is gonna pay off and we don’t really need to muscle it to get these big throws.
BECK The strategy has certainly worked out. Finley has already been named an All American multiple times and he’s dominated the Mountain West competition this season. His best throw is 210 feet six inches. Coach Paul Barrett says this requires attention to detail and some specific preparation.
BARRETT: Do strength conditioning for power and speed and we do some jumping, some short sprints, and then we have technical days where we work the implement. And sometimes at different times of the year we work a heavier implement as well, which again makes the competition weight lighter. We go over video each week.
BECK: Barrett says while the Mountain West Championship is nice, he says his pupil has much larger goals. He says Finley is one of a handful of people who could be the NCAA champion. Never the less…Finley still wants to put on show at his home track.
FINLEY: I mean if the conditions are right and I’m feeling good we are going to go for it anyway you know.
BECK: It’s home.
FINLEY: Yep. (Laughs)
BECK: It’s your home meet. You are close to the school record?
FINLEY: Yep. I’m about four inches off I think or something? Yeah.
Beck: So you are aware of that?
FINLEY: Yep (Laughs)
BECK: And that’s something you’d like to have?
FINLEY: Yep! Definitely.
BECK: Next up are the NCAA and USA Track and Field Championships. He admits he’s been thinking about those meets a lot.
FINLEY: I know I’m gonna get in the top three for sure and you know I got a shot at taking it.
BECK: His Coach Paul Barrett is even more confident.
BARRETT: He’s actually improved his discus mark each and every meet we’ve had. Like every single meet. So obviously his confidence is coming up. So I think he’s in a prime situation.
BECK: And after this year…there’s a little something called the Olympics. For Wyoming Public Radio, I’m Bob Beck.