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Track: 'Just A Matter Of Time': From recovery to record

CHRIS CODUTO/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Junior thrower Sean Shields recently broke the school record for the shot put, with a throw of 65-7 3/4.
By J. Ryan Casey
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, April 14, 2005
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Nobody was surprised when junior thrower Sean Shields broke the Arizona school record in the shot put with a throw of 65 feet, 7 3/4 inches, not even Shields himself.

"I knew it was just a matter of time before I was actually going to do it," the Pismo Beach, Calif., native said. "I was more relieved that I finally did it, because I knew I had the capability of doing it the last two years."

His throws coach, John Frazier, felt the same way.

"It wasn't a surprise," he said. "It was kind of like frosting on the cake, because I just knew it was going to happen."

That inkling came minutes before Shields was scheduled to compete in the hammer throw.

"Originally, we left early because he was going to throw hammer on Thursday," Frazier said. "Right before hammer, I had this feeling where I called Sean, and I said, 'Hey Sean, let's not throw hammer, just focus on throwing far in the shot.'"

Frazier's gut was right, and Shields broke the Jack Trahan's 16-year-old record of 64 feet, 10 inches.

The feat is all the more impressive considering that Shields entered the 2004-05 track season recovering from a wrist injury that left his future in the shot put in doubt.

"Any time you get injured, you don't know if you're going to come back," he said. "If you do come back, you don't know if you're going to be able to come back to the level that you were at prior to the injury.

"To be able to (recover and break the record) just gives me a lot of hope," he said.

Arizona head coach Fred Harvey said Shields' shot put record isn't something to be overlooked.

"That's one of our best records at the institution. That's a big-time record," he said.

Like Frazier and Shields, Harvey said he wasn't the least bit surprised when Shields broke the record.

"(During the indoor season), he had a couple of fouls that were over 65 feet, so he's thrown that far before, they just weren't legal," he said. "With that in mind, it wasn't a shocking revelation that he threw that far, it was just really pleasing that he got the record."

Despite his performance, Shields' coaches feel that he has room for improvement.

"Yes, it's a school record," Harvey said. "But there's a lot more in him, and that's kind of scary when you think about it."

Frazier agreed.

"He hasn't put (the record) out real far, yet," he said.

One factor Shields said has played a part in his success is constant competition in practice, especially from sophomore Adam Kuehl.

"It helps," he said with a smile. "When (Kuehl) throws far, it obviously pushes me to throw far, and vice versa, in the disc. He's a good training partner to have."

Frazier agreed that the throwers surrounding Shields have had a definite impact on his season.

"I think a combination of everybody coming together and how everyone's really supportive of each other and work hard play a factor," Frazier said. "They realize that they're at the top level, and you have to put pressure on people to perform."

After launching his throw, Shields held the top mark in the country, only to lose it to Kentucky senior Jeff Chakouian later in the day.

Shields said that he enjoyed holding the mark, if only for a few minutes.

"It was fun having it, I don't even know how long it was, but it was cool to be announced that you're leading the country," he said.

Looking forward, both Shields and his coaches like his chances leading up to the NCAA Outdoor Championships June 8-11.

"I've improved since indoor nationals (in March) every single meet," Shields said. "So if I can continue to do that, I should have a chance to win nationals."

"Oh, yeah," Frazier said. "He still has a great shot. I think if we keep doing what we're doing, and just be wise about training and selecting meets, he'll have a great chance."

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