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SP Sports Weekly: The two ASU throwers excelling at track and field

Join the Sports Editors to talk about Turner Washington and Jorinde van Klinken, ASU's star throwers

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Illustration published on Wednesday, June 24, 2020.


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ALEX COIL:

Hello everyone, and welcome back to SP Sports Weekly, your weekly roundup of State Press sports content. Alongside Jeffrey Horst, I am Alex Coil, and we are the sports editors at The State Press.

JEFFREY HORST: 

Joining us now on the show is State Press Sports staff writer Lauren Hertz to talk about her latest two pieces on two ASU throwers: Turner Washington and Jorinde van Klinken. Thank you for joining us, Lauren.

LAUREN HERTZ: 

Thank you so much for having me.

ALEX COIL: 

Let's go up right away and start with Turner Washington, obviously, recently broke an NCAA record for men's shot put. And, kind of throughout the season, from the beginning, we saw Turner Washington really building up to that mark, and then he finally did it.

LAUREN HERTZ: 

Yeah, it was pretty impressive actually. I've been watching him for a couple of weeks at the Texas Tech Shootout and the Texas Tech Invitational, and I had noticed those throws were progressively getting better. And the Texas Tech Shootout came around; I was actually watching it live. 

You just saw that he had such a drive and he was so driven, and you knew that he wanted it. And it was actually his last throw, it's the sixth throw of the day. And on that last throw, he was able to throw 21.85 meters, which was pretty impressive, honestly. Obviously the NCAA record. Also beating out Ryan Whiting's record from 2008. So, it was pretty impressive all around.

JEFFREY HORST:

When Washington talked to you, after the 2020 season was canceled due to COVID-19, he said that he wanted to reconsider why was it he was throwing. What made him reconsider?

LAUREN HERTZ: 

Pretty much, when I spoke to him, he said that he missed the entire, obviously, 2019-2020 outdoor season, which was when he throws discus, which is his favorite of the two that he throws — he throws shot put and discus. 

He spent his entire redshirt sophomore year kind of thinking like, "Why am I still doing this if I can’t, if I’m going to miss so many seasons," because he had already redshirted one of his seasons as well. So, he kind of spent his whole redshirt sophomore season just thinking why he loved the sport so much, like, who got him into the sport. 

His father is olympian Anthony Washington. He kind of talked to him and he spent some time thinking, "Well, I love the sport. I should probably keep going." And obviously, keeping on going helped him break the record at the end.

JEFFREY HORST: 

Another note that I thought was interesting in your story was the fact that he described shot put as, quote "It wasn't as beautiful of an event" compared to discus. I wanted to ask why did you think he described the comparison between shot put and discus with beauty?

LAUREN HERTZ: 

Well, Turner had always thrown discus. Shot put, when he first started out, he described it as kind of being, I would say, a little bit more rough and tough of a sport than discus was. 

His father had competed in three Olympics for discus and discus only, so he was pretty much raised on discus. So when he got into shot put, when he first got here, I mean, he had thrown shot put many times, and he had thrown at a couple other meets that weren't at U of A, he didn't really like it. 

He told me that shot put wasn't necessarily something that he wanted to do, and when he got here, he still didn’t really want to do it. But, once he started doing it, he kind of realized, "Oh, this is a really, really beautiful event, and this is what I really like doing." And, obviously, he is really talented at the rotational shot put. So, now he sees it as a more beautiful event than he used to. 

ALEX COIL:

Another thing on his radar is the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo. You know, he mentions that he's got to improve on some technique, but both of the athletes we'll talk about today have Olympic aspirations. How in range do you think those are for these athletes and then what's it going to take for them, from their perspective, to qualify for the Olympic Games?

LAUREN HERTZ: 

For Turner at least, I think that it might not necessarily be such in range, at least this year. As they say — I've read in a couple of places — they say that the United States shot put team is one of the hardest to make in the world. 

So, Turner said even if he improved on his technique, he doesn't know if he would be able to make the Olympic team because of how much talent would be on it. Obviously, Turner has a lot of talent himself, but he said that if he spent more time training and a little bit more time on the shot put, that maybe he could make the team. But he doesn't necessarily anticipate going to Tokyo, even though that’s the end goal.

For Jorinde, she is currently fourth in the NCAA for shot put, and she is ranked 39th in the world right now for it. So, I think that her aspirations are a little bit closer to actually making the Olympics than, let's say, Turner, because she has international experience with the Netherlands, and she has years of competing at different world championships around the world. 

At least for her, her goal is to get first in the NCAA Indoor Championships. But as for the Olympics, that's obviously the number one goal for her.

ALEX COIL: 

Another connection between these two athletes, obviously, you know, on the same track team, you are going to have the same throwing coach in Brian Blutreich. Then he, obviously, has been huge with each of their development. But another little small connection for each — Ryan Whiting, specifically with Jorinde.

LAUREN HERTZ: 

So when it came to Ryan Whiting, Jorinde had met him at a world championship event, and she didn't necessarily want to come to the U.S. at first, it wasn't really in the plans for her. But once she got in touch with Whiting at a world championship competition a couple of years ago, he introduced her to Coach Blutreich, and Blutreich saw her talent and thought, you know, maybe she can be someone that we wanted to work with. 

He invited her for a visit here, and she loved it a lot more than she loved the University of Georgia, at the time. And so Blutreich offered her to come here and, due to the COVID pandemic, she wasn't able to when she wanted to. So she deferred her decision for at least a half a year. 

Her relationship with Whiting actually helped her to be introduced to the world of NCAA and competing in the NCAA, because she had never even necessarily thought of doing that. Because she just wanted to kind of focus on her academics and she was even thinking about, "Oh, is it time?" But, for her, she just really wanted to keep competing. 

ALEX COIL: 

Both athletes also mentioned specifically Blutreich helping, as you mentioned, with technique, but also advancing each of their careers. How has he done that and what did they say about him?

LAUREN HERTZ:

For Jorinde, she did not know the rotational shot put at all before she got here, and that is something she really wanted to focus on, and Blutreich, with all the success that he's had as a coach and even as an athlete back in the '90s, he was able to teach her the rotational shot put. 

Because of that, in competition at least in her first season here, she's been able to throw huge marks, like 17.67 a couple of weeks ago or 17.76 meters. She's throwing really far now because of the rotational shot put. It's allowing her to expand on her throws and throw farther than she ever has before. 

As for Turner, throwing as far as he possibly can is how he described it, and he thinks that Blutreich really helped him to learn how to really get his throws to go farther than they were when he was at, not only Arizona but when he was in high school as well. His throws have gone incredible lengths since he's arrived here and he told me that he credits a lot of that to Coach Blutreich.

JEFFREY HORST:

At the time of publication, Jorinde had only been with ASU for six weeks. So, at the time of recording, this is March 1. She's only been here for seven weeks. What has it been like for her acclimating to ASU, to Tempe, to America while having to compete at the Division I level and balance her academics at the same time?

LAUREN HERTZ: 

So for Jorinde, she had come to the U.S. a couple of times for international competition, but she never had stayed here long term. So, she never really got to, like, learn what it was like to necessarily live in and adapt to living here.

Her roommate, Mya Lesnar, she and her live together now. They've been living together for the past six weeks. And according to Lesnar, they've learned a lot from each other actually, Lesnar only being a freshman and Jorinde being a graduate student. They've kind of bounced ideas off of each other and really enjoyed each other's presence. They also train together. 

So Jorinde told me during the interview when we spoke she's still learning a lot. She doesn't know a lot of things about the U.S., let alone Arizona. She had never heard of Tempe. She had never heard of Phoenix, and she had never been here in her life. So coming here was a huge acclimation for her, and she didn't necessarily know how she was going to adapt at first. But she said so far, it's coming along pretty well, but she has a lot of things to learn.

JEFFREY HORST: 

You touched on Van Klinken's balance of athletic and academic performance. Something she said in your piece was that in the Netherlands, it's not really common for athletes to compete while also attending school. She said that when you try to do sports and academics at the same time, you, quote, "Give up a part of your social life to do both."

I was wondering based on her upbringing in the Netherlands what that was like. Because as you said, she is very passionate about her academics.

LAUREN HERTZ: 

When Jorinde grew up in the Netherlands, she would kind of be training all the time, and she would have little time for academics, but she would make as much time as she possibly could for it, and when she got to high school, she realized she only had a couple of really, really close friends, and other than that, she didn't really have a social life. She didn't really party, she didn't go out, she wouldn't even go out to dinner with her friends most of the time. She would stay in to study, and she would stay up super late, which is actually what she is still doing now as a Division I athlete, still staying up late studying while balancing practices every day. 

But in the Netherlands, I would describe it as a little bit more intense because she was also training with the international team while she was also training with the high school team that she was a part of at the time. 

All of that for her, in a sense, made academics impossible, but she still wanted to do it anyway, and she managed to achieve her undergraduate degree at 20 years old while competing for the international team around the world. So, in a way, even in college, she said that she gave up her social life. She kept the same couple of good friends and would hang out with them whenever she possibly could. But other than that, she never really went out or did anything necessarily that she wanted to do. 

JEFFREY HORST: 

Did she ever express regret for making that sort of choice?

LAUREN HERTZ: 

No, because she says she loves competing and she loves having that kind of mindset. It kind of keeps her going.

JEFFREY HORST: 

Thank you so much Lauren for joining us on this week's show to talk about your two pieces. 

LAUREN HERTZ: 

Yeah, thank you for having me. Much appreciated.

ALEX COIL: 

Thank you all for listening to SP Sports Weekly. For more State Press content, visit StatePress.com, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @statepress and @statepresssport. See you all next week for the next episode of SP Sports Weekly.


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Reach the reporters at ancoil@asu.edu and jhorst2@asu.edu and follow @anc2018 and @HorseySeven on Twitter.

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Jeffrey HorstDigital editor-in-chief

Jeffrey Horst is the digital editor-in-chief of The State Press. He previously served as the publication's sports editor and worked at Cronkite News and ArizonaSports.com.


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