Athlete of the Week: Taylor Eldred
Taylor Eldred, a junior thrower from River Falls, Wisconsin, threw a lifetime personal record of 55.24m in the hammer throw at the Holst Invite at Div. II Concordia-St. Paul on Saturday.
The throw was good enough to place fifth in the meet, while seeding him fourth in WIAC and No. 14 nationally in Div. III. He also achieved a personal record (PR) in the discus, placing No. 11 with a throw of 39.76m.
The Student Voice sat down with Eldred to discuss his improvement in the hammer and discuss his expectations for the WIAC meet.
Q: When did you start throwing? What did you enjoy about it the most when you started?
A: Discus started freshman year of high school and hammer freshman year of college. In my conference in high school I was top 10 [in discus], so I thought I would have a chance to do well in college. I didn’t want to do hammer when I was freshman. It’s a new event and you have to learn everything from scratch. It wasn’t a fun process but I kept with it my second year, and the second year it went a lot better and I enjoyed it a lot more.
Q: How much have you improved in your time at River Falls?
A: Discus I have stayed kind of stagnant and haven’t beat my high school PR, but I’m really close to it. But hammer I still haven’t hit what I want to. If I can keep it going up as it is, I can probably improve my distance by about 10m. I’m hoping to break the university record by about 5m. Compared to my freshman year [when] I was barely getting it to 40m, I’m now hoping for about 60m to 65m.
Q: How difficult is the technique for events like discus and the hammer throw?
A: From every coach I’ve had, I’ve heard that hammer is the most difficult event in track and field to learn. It takes some people upwards of 15 years to master it. I’m nowhere near where I could be if it was actually in high school or beforehand, but I think I’ve made good strides towards it. I haven’t put as much time in discus. If I put more time into that [event] I would probably be higher than I am now.
Q: What makes the hammer such a difficult event?
A: Basically the whole physics of it, to put it simply. It’s a 16-pound ball going up to 70 miles an hour, while trying to control it in a 7-foot circle.
Q: How was your indoor season? Did it make an impact on your success so far in outdoor?
A: The indoor season went really well, and I broke the university record [in the weight throw]. I didn’t end up where I wanted to be and just missed going to nationals, so that was disappointing, but I can’t do anything about it now. Going into outdoor weight throw doesn’t translate that well to hammer throw, but hammer does to weight throw. Weight throw is more of a strengthening sport.
Q: What has been the biggest factor in your improving distances?
A: Keeping steady with practices throughout and practicing throughout the summer. Trying to copy those who are very good at it and their form and translate it to how my body would work with it.
Q: What goals do you still have for the closing part of the season?
A: Win hammer at conference, break the school record and win nationals. Nationals is the ultimate goal, but also breaking my old throwing coach’s school record.
Q: What are your expectations for the WIAC championships for the team?
A: Our throwing coach knows we can podium and get a lot of points if we perform well. We just have to make sure we’re at our peak performance. I’ve already kind of cemented my place at nationals so I’m not going to be at peak performance, so it could be hit or miss at conference for me. If everyone performs well, we can score a lot of points.