Since 2016, ASU track and field assistant throws coach Brian Blutreich has looked for athletes he can coach, that fit his blueprint and are "Coach Blu" types. With his guidance, the team of throwers have earned 10 NCAA titles and just last year, his squad racked up four national titles.
Blutreich has been coaching for nearly three decades and has competed at the highest level, qualifying and competing in the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. But some athletes say what makes Blutreich and his coaching methods great is not just his knowledge and love of the game, it's the relationship he builds with his athletes and the work they put in.
"It's honestly surprising because his (Blutreich) way of teaching is so simple," said freshman thrower Ralford Mullings. "The thing about him is he sees everything. He's very detailed, and that's really good to have."
With all-time greats like Magdalyn Ewen and Samantha Noennig having recently graduated and active program stars like redshirt senior Turner Washington and graduate student Jorinde van Klinken soon to be on their way out, Blutreich and his underclassmen will work to become the next generation of throwers.
Above all, he values passion for the sport and for the process of working hard to achieve success. Each of the throwers he brings into the program fits the blueprint and has that passion to become great.
"My job is to coach these young kids and to develop what their potential is," Blutreich said. "That's where I put the most pressure on myself: to maximize what their ability is. Results come from the student athlete's hard work and the information I give them, then trying to work together in a coach-athlete relationship to push the envelope and see what they can do."
Freshman Faith Bender may not compete until the outdoor season begins in March, but her presence on the squad is Blutreich's ace in the hole. In high school, Bender became a national champion and was ranked No.1 in the nation for discus and No.1 in California for shot put.
"She can really help us more outdoor (to compete in Pac-12 conference meets), and we didn't really want to waste a year of eligibility on her indoors and not have any conference meets because we know she is a lock to go to nationals as a freshman," Blutreich said.
He took part in his first event as a Sun Devil in the Axe 'Em Open on Jan. 14, placing seventh in the shot put event with a throw of 16.16 meters. Blutreich said he believes Mullings can help the team during the outdoor season with his discus throws.
"It feels good to be throwing shot put again. Each week I want to get better and better and throw farther and farther, and for discus, I want to be top five, and that's going to take over 60-meters. And I think I'm on the right path to get to over 60," Mullings said.
Redshirt junior Shelby Moran has three years of eligibility left and has already claimed the sixth-farthest outdoor hammer throw in ASU history.
Since Moran is primarily a hammer and discus thrower, she will not be competing until March to help focus on her game and prepare for a potential bid at the outdoor nationals.
Redshirt sophomore Mya Lesnar also debuted at the Axe 'Em Open, her first competitive event in just over two years, winning the event with a throw of 15.65 meters. Her throw was inches shy of nailing ASU's top-10 list.
"I was hoping for some better numbers but that will come," Lesnar said. "You know, there's a lot of days where the technique isn't there, or maybe in the weight room things aren't going as well, but in the end, it's gonna pay off and you just have to be patient. Working with Blu I think I've definitely learned that."
In high school, Lesnar earned Class AA State Champion for shot put in 2019, runner-up in 2018 and was runner-up for discus in 2019. She was a three-time Section 8AA Champion for shot put from 2017-19 and was voted to the Minnesota Girls All-Decade second team for throwing events.
"I've always had these big goals for myself and I think entering into college and working with Blu, my confidence has already just gone through the roof and I've already set some pretty high expectations," Lesnar said. "There's definitely something really special here and I'm just really excited for the future."
Justin Spangenthal is a reporter for The State Press, currently covering Men's Golf and Track and Field. Justin transferred to ASU last January and is planning to graduate Fall '23. He is passionate about journalism and hopes to one day launch his own media outlet.