May 2013

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Byers Targets No. 4 and Then Some M By Chris Brewer att Byers has an opportunity to do something no other University of Iowa track & field athlete has ever done. The three-time Big Ten Conference javelin champion will throw for his fourth conference crown in Columbus, Ohio, at the Big Ten Championships on May 10-12. Including Byers, five Hawkeyes in program history have won a league title in the same event three times, but a four-peat would put the Wichita, Kan., native in a league of his own. "That would be a great accomplishment, but I try not to get too wrapped up in it," said Byers, referring to the historical relevance of a fourth title. "The thing I think about is winning a Big Ten title, and if it happens, I can look back on it, but right now I need to live in the moment. I'm a senior and I want to enjoy everything, but I also want to go out with a bang." Byers owns school and Big Ten records in the javelin. He set both marks with a toss of 245-feet-8 (74.89m) at the 2011 season-opener, and for more than two years now he has been chasing that same distance. "I threw 74-plus (meters) at LSU my sophomore season, but then I dropped and never got back up," said Byers. "Last year I threw 68 (meters), and then I got hurt, so this year coach (Scott) Cappos and I talked about building some consistency, because if you're pretty consistent, then you're on the right road to hitting the big one." The strategy paid off in the first two events of 2013. He topped 70 meters at the season-opener for the first time since his sophomore season, and he followed that up with a season-best 234-8 (71.54m) at the Musco Twilight. "Those two meets, distance-wise, were the most consistent marks I've had since I've been here," said Byers. "That's a good sign. It shows we're on the right path and doing the right things." Byers attributes part of the newfound consistency to a better understanding of his body in relation to his event. "He has an amazing arm," said Landon Evans, Iowa's strength and conditioning coach, "and from a technical stand point it looks like he's hitting his marks with primarily his upper body. "He's such a sharp and crafted athlete that he just needs to reprogram a little bit and he's there." Before joining the Iowa staff in August, Evans worked at Illinois State, home of two-time NCAA javelin champion Tim Glover. He's seen the best of the best, and he insists Byers is on a path to contend for more titles. "There's not a lot of Big Ten kids that will be able to touch him," said Evans. "There's a couple in the nation that are throwing well, but if he wants it and he allows himself to maximize that engine and just go with it… I'm pretty realistic with track and field, but I think he could be national champion on the right day." Byers said an aggressive approach coupled with a proper mindset is key to competing at both the conference and national level. "I want to stay aggressive and throw as far as I can, and if I do it's going to be another Big Ten record. I know coach Cappos knows that and we both believe it's going to happen. That is the biggest thing, to trust everything we're doing and believe it," said Byers. "I know I can compete with the national guys. I've been competing with them since high school. I know I'm there and I'm getting better, and that's what I need to do. Keep developing and getting better." 53

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