Tuufuli tossing his way to prominence


Reno Tuufuli is hard to miss.

The redshirt freshman has left a sizable impression on the Hawkeye track team, and he’s not done.

The thrower’s motivation is simple — to win.

“I hate losing, not just to the people I’m competing against but also the rest of the NCAA,” Tuufuli said. “When I see that I get knocked down in the rankings, it makes me mad and motivates me to work harder and to focus more and do better at meets.”

This weekend, Tuufuli and the Hawkeyes will be in town for their only home meet of the outdoor season. Saturday will mark the first time fans will see him in action in the Iowa City area.

The Las Vegas native currently leads the Big Ten in the discus and sits at fourth in the shot put. His mark of 60.71 meters at the Florida Relays leads all freshmen in the country and is a strong at sixth in the nation. He also comes into this weekend at 33rd nationally in the shot put (18.34 meters).

This success was a pleasant surprise for his coaches; he started his first competition for the Hawkeyes halfway through the indoor track season.

Now, as his technique is beginning to click, he owes his success to the little details.

“My technique is really coming along,” Tuufuli said. “Lately, I’ve been starting to understand it more. I’ve become a student of the craft. I learned how to control my body through the whole throw.”

Tuufuli realized that to keep improving his marks and become one of Iowa’s up-and-coming athletes, he needed to put his mechanics under the microscope to learn from what he was doing.

“Before, I would just throw and not remember anything I did in the ring,” he said. “Now, I can point out what I do wrong in the ring and what I do right. The reason I [hit a personal record] by 6 meters [in the discus at the Florida Relays] is because I had a technical breakthrough, which was great, but I was mad at myself for not doing it before, because it was so simple.

“I used to throw as fast and strong as I could, but now I’m focusing on being patient and hitting good positions.”

The new approach has shown immediate improvement, and his coaches have noticed that.

Iowa Director of Track and Field Joey Woody knows Tuufuli’s season is shaping up to be a great first year.

“He’s just trying to get better every meet,” Woody said. “He’s used to competing at a high level. Ever since high school, he’s been on U.S. teams. He’s continued to focus on the next event.”

While his college accolades are racking up by the meet, Tuufuli had strong credentials prior to this season.

In 2015, while redshirting, he placed second at the USA Track and Field Championships in the discus (59.06 meters), then qualified for the Pan Am Games.

In high school, he won the discus at the U.S. Youth National Championships, qualifying him for the 2013 World Youth Championships. He finished seventh representing Team USA.

If his accomplishments in high-school and his redshirt years are a sign of things to come, the future looks promising for not only Tuufuli but the Hawkeye track and field program.

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