Junior hammer thrower advances to NCAA finals

Devin Stanford will compete next week in Oregon.

Joe Perovich

Last year during the NCAA preliminaries, Devin Stanford finished outside the top 20 in the hammer throw.

This year, as a junior, her performance at the preliminaries earned her a trip to Eugene, Ore., for the NCAA championships.

Stanford is the first Gophers hammer thrower to advance to the NCAA finals since 2007.

“She knows what it’s like to be in those situations emotionally,” said head coach Matt Bingle, “and there’s nothing like experience.”

That experience gave Stanford the edge she needed the second time around.

“When I went in there to compete, I kind of knew what to expect,” Stanford said.

This is Stanford’s first trip to the NCAA championships, and it’s her first year working with Peter Miller, the new assistant coach for throws.

“That transition sometimes can be difficult,” Bingle said, “but he did a really good job of working with her technically … [and] understanding how to coach her, elevate her and take care of her.”

Stanford said Miller’s strengths are his enthusiasm and his ability to get the best out of the athletes he coaches.

Miller said Stanford’s maturation and development hinged on trust and technical adjustments.

“For most of the indoor season, she wasn’t getting the results she wanted, but success breeds trust,” Miller said. “We doubled the amount of time she was in the circle. … I think that she bought into the training, my philosophy and how we go about
competing.”

Going into last weekend’s meet, Stanford was seeded No. 20 in the hammer throw, but she finished 10th, guaranteeing her a spot at the NCAA championships.

“I don’t think a lot of the [hammer throwers] had the weekend they were hoping for,” Stanford said. “I feel like they had way better marks than what happened. But it’s something that happened, and I’m happy to have the opportunity to go to Eugene.”

Bingle said Stanford would compete Wednesday.

“I honestly don’t have any expectations. I’m going to go for the moment,” Stanford said. “I’m just really blessed to have this
opportunity.”

But Miller does have expectations.

“I really think that she’s capable if she comes in loose, relaxed and confident,” he said. “It wouldn’t surprise me at all if she finishes in the top 15 or even top 10 if she does everything she’s capable of.”