Elite company: Tiger senior thrower Brittney Waller among NCAA favorites

Shawn Cobey on ACC record-holder: 'I still think she has some bigger throws in her'

Brittney Waller (Photo courtesy of Clemson Sports Information)

Brittney Waller (Photo courtesy of Clemson Sports Information)

In winning her third straight ACC weight throw championship, senior Brittney Waller set a new league record while helping Clemson’s women’s team claim its fourth consecutive ACC indoors track & field title.

Waller’s ACC three-peat in the 20 lb. weight throw was a Clemson first, and her mark of 70’10.5” eclipsed the previous conference championship record that was set by North Carolina’s Laura Gerraughty back in 2005.

“It was really special,” said Waller, who formerly attended J.L. Mann High School in nearby Greenville, SC. “Especially knowing that the record had been there for a while. Laura was one of those stellar performers who just continually set the bar high for college throwers. Whether it was shot-put, or discus, she’s one of those throwers you always looked up to. So to know that was her record, makes me very thankful.”

Waller described the different throwing events, and some of the more esoteric points concerning equipment and techniques.

“The 20 lb. weight is an indoor event and it’s actually an 18 lb. ball that’s in a net or a case, and there’s a handle that’s connected to it that makes it 20 lbs.,” she explained. “Shot-put for the women is a 4K ball, which is an 8 lb. ball, and that can be thrown inside or outside. And then hammer is an 8 lb. ball – a shot-put – that’s on a long wire with a handle.

“I do discus as well, and the best way to describe it is it’s kind of like a Frisbee, but not in the same motion. It’s just a thin disc of metal that you throw. The techniques are different. With discus, it’s more of a rotational event. With weight and hammer, you’re pushing the ball, and as you’re moving forward, your feet are kind of going around each other, so that you’re stepping forward and you’re turning with it.”

With the NCAA Indoor Championships up next this weekend, Waller is second-seeded in the weight throw, and trails only Indiana State’s Felisha Johnson on the national leader board.

“Of course, I want to win, but I’m really thankful to just be there,” said Waller. “Last year I was kind of the last one out. You’re either a top-seed, or you’re not, and I was one of those bubble-kids, so it was just difficult to wait and see whether you were going to go or not. So I know what it feels like to be the last one out. So this time I’m going with the perspective that I’m really thankful to be there, regardless of top-seed, or second-seed.

“I just want to go out there and enjoy it. It’s my last time throwing it indoors as a college athlete, so it’s a lot of fun, and whatever happens, happens. I try not to think about seeds and marks. I just try to do what I’m supposed to do, which is to perform when I’m asked to, and to practice the best that I can.”

Waller understands that the field competitions are sometimes overlooked in favor of the more familiar track events, though she says that everything matters when it’s time to tally up the points.

“We’re not trying to be on the front of the cereal box, we’re just trying to do our job,” said Waller. “To be part a field-event group here at Clemson, we don’t worry about being the sexy event, or having the most publicity.

“At ACCs and nationals, we think about the points more than anything, because those are going to be your real hard, team camaraderie meets. Not to say other meets aren’t, but with ACCs and nationals you are worried about your field events. We have a lot of great track athletes, but you make sure not to forget your field athletes, as well, because every point does count.”

Interim Director of Track & Field Shawn Cobey coached Waller personally up until this season, and he’s seen her evolve into a championship-level competitor.

“I still think she has some bigger throws in her,” said Cobey. “She’s comfortable competing against the best in the country, and she’s definitely matured a lot as an athlete. She’s been through it all, having been to the national meet as a sophomore, and last year missing it by two centimeters.

“She’s ready to go out in her senior year making a name for herself. She broke the ACC record, and the two girls she passed on the national list are two of the top throwers in the NCAA all-time. She feels that’s where she belongs now.”

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