Family of throwers making big impact for Iowa track

The Iowa throwers have been making headlines all season long, and that was no different at the Musco Twilight Invitational, where Konstadina Spanoudakis had a career-best performance.


Joseph Cress

Iowa’s Laulauga Tausaga watches her throw during the 18th annual Musco Twilight at Francis X. Cretzmeyer Track on Saturday, April 22, 2017. Iowa’s men and women’s track and field finished first overall in the Musco Twilight with a 237.5 and 203 respectively.

Robert Read, Sports Reporter

Laulauga Tausaga just won her third-consecutive Big Ten Field Athlete of the Week award after sweeping all three women’s throwing events at the Musco Twilight Invitational. She leads the country in the discus and has her name all over the Hawkeye record book.

However, many of Tausaga’s highlighted memories at Iowa have to do with her teammates.

“Most of the memorable moments this season have to do with someone other than me,” Tausaga said. “I am proud of the efforts I’ve made and the things I’ve accomplished at the University of Iowa, but the feeling of seeing a teammate tap into their greatest potential is something I love.”

Konstadina Spanoudakis provided the latest memory that Tausaga can latch on to. At Musco, Spanoudakis had a massive throw of 57.95 meters in the discus, a personal best.

The mark is also good for fifth place in the country, a position Spanoudakis still has a hard time believing she occupies.

“We were warming up for Musco; I turned to [Tausaga], and I said, ‘My goal is just to be top 20 in the country this year,’ ” Spanoudakis said. “Of course, I always want to throw farther, but I just didn’t expect to be top five in the country as a sophomore. To me, it’s kind of unreal right now.”

Spanoudakis, a native of Crete, Greece, is part of a deep Hawkeye throwing group. Tausaga has already made her claim as potentially the greatest thrower in school history, and Reno Tuufuli has put his name toward the top of the Iowa discus and shot-put marks.

RELATED: Three Iowa track athletes set personal bests in Bryan Clay Invitational

Competing alongside such accomplished athletes can be formidable, but Spanoudakis has used it to develop her craft.

“It’s intimidating to say the least,” she said. “But it pushes you a lot. I try to be a student of the sport as much as I can. So I try to take things from [Tausaga], I try to take things from Reno. I want to be better every day, and by the end of my collegiate career to stand where they stand now.”

That strategy has worked out so far — Spanoudakis ranks second all-time in Iowa history in the discus.

However, teammates can only take you so far. What keeps her progressing has been a coach who believed in her and pushed her to do things she did not think was possible.

“If it wasn’t for [throws] coach [Eric] Werskey and his guidance — but mostly patience — I don’t think I’d be where I’m at right now,” Spanoudakis said. “He has a lot of trust in me. Until I threw that 57, I didn’t think I was able to do that, but Coach Werskey knew it all along. He has so much trust in his athletes, and I really owe him a lot for his guidance and support.” 

RELATED: Iowa track’s Reno Tuufuli throws out the competition at Musco 

She will attempt to keep her hot streak going this weekend, when Iowa competes across California in three meets: the Mt. Sac Relays, the Bryan Clay Invitational, and the 25th-annual Beach Invitational. No matter which thrower comes out with a big mark this time, expect the rest of the group to be thrilled.

“We are a family,” Spanoudakis said. “My memories are their memories, and I think winning is so much more enjoyable when you do it with someone else.”