A slump is a slump is a slump. True only in the eye of the beholder. In this discussion that’s Maggie Ewen, who is expected to kick at the can of becoming the NCAA Championship’s first same-year winner of 3 throwing events. (Ed: There are no guarantees in sport and at the NCAA West Regional Ewen did not advance in the hammer, in which event we expect to see much more from her as a post-collegian.)
At the Pac-12 Championships the Arizona State senior picked up a trifecta of conference titles (shot, discus, hammer) for the second year in a row. After securing the first of these with a 244-0 (74.38) hammer toss, she exercised restraint in her comments.
“It felt really good,” says the 23-year-old Minnesota native. “I have been in a bit of a learning curve and a little bit of a slump. But throwing that 74 today feels really, really good.”
Yes, really good, the No. 2 all-time collegiate mark behind Ewen’s 244-6 (74.53) CR set in April. She calls that a slump? Her second-round 228-0 (69.49) also would have won the competition—from UCLA frosh Alyssa Wilson.
Wilson’s 218-3 (66.53) took her to No. 2 all-time among U.S. Juniors (U20s).
“We are changing a lot in my throw right now,” Ewen continues. “There’s a lot of things I’m not used to, not comfortable with. They are starting to get a little more natural which is why I threw so far today.”
Later in the meet’s first day, Ewen forged ahead to a 63-¾ (19.22) win in the shot, the equal-No. 5 all-time collegiate mark for the Sun Devil who also set a CR in that event in April.
Both marks were Pac-12 meet standards, making Ewen the only athlete besides distance legend Henry Rono who owns a pair of them.
On Day 2, Ewen wrapped up her repeat triple taking the discus title ahead of Stanford’s Valarie Allman—the yearly list leader among American women of all ages, and the NCAA favorite—in tricky wind conditions.
“Yeah, that one was really stressful,” Ewen says. “I knew it was going to be a pretty good one. I was hoping for a lot farther because I know what Val’s capable of, but it just happened to play out in my favor today.”
In complimenting Allman, Ewen looks ahead to the Nationals and continues, “I know she’s a fighter and I know she’s going to come back even stronger—you know, have something to prove, something to the fight for and I’m really excited for that competition.”
Neither Allman—a senior and the NCAA 3rd-placer in ’16—nor Northern Arizona hammer thrower Brooke Andersen, the ball-and-chain event’s No. 2 all-time collegian (243-5/74.20), figure to make Ewen’s tilt at tripling history at the NCAA an easy ride.
Last year, Ewen claimed 6th (shot), 2nd (discus) and 1st (hammer). This year she claims she is not even thinking about three wins. “Not really, not seriously,” she says. “You know, we try and come into every meet, just do the best we can do and where that places us is where that places us.”
What Ewen is thinking about are hammer technique adjustments she and Sun Devil throws coach Brian Blutreich are trying to groove in.
“It’s really technical stuff,” she explains. “We’re trying to keep everything a lot flatter. I tend to get like a really steep orbit, which makes me throw up instead of out, if that makes sense. And just things like that. Trying to fix things in my wind. Just lots of little things here and there, really.”
More details on that flat orbit?
“It starts from the wind [as in turns, not air movement],” Ewen points out. “It’s all the turns and it’s the release so it’s everything.”
Got it? Flat orbit may lead to longer launches. And maybe toward a unique place in NCAA history for Ewen.