Podominick moves from hoops to hurls

Liz Podominick qualified for regionals in her first meet as a Gophers thrower.

Matt Anderson

On March 26, Baylor defeated Minnesota’s women’s basketball team in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, ending the Gophers’ season.

A little more than two weeks later, Liz Podominick stamped her ticket for another NCAA appearance.

This time, the ball was smaller and the accomplishment individual.

Podominick, throwing in her first collegiate event with Minnesota’s women’s track and field team, had a 50-0 shot put Saturday in Knoxville, Tenn., at the SEC vs. Big Ten Classic, qualifying her for the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships.

She finished second in the shot put and also came out of the meet with fifth place in the discus, with a mark of 153-0.

Podominick’s early success is something throwing coach Lynne Anderson attributes in part to her basketball season experience.

“It came from the lifting she did in the summer last year and the aggressive basketball play that she’s been able to do,” Anderson said. “Her legs are much stronger, and she just loves to compete.”

Coach Gary Wilson also said basketball helps Podominick in the field, but more from a mental standpoint as opposed to a physical one.

Going back to his days coaching at Wisconsin-La Crosse in the early 1980s, Wilson said basketball players have always been able to cross over successfully to track and field.

“It’s just a whole new experience, and I think that sometimes helps a kid,” Wilson said. “Sometimes, I think in this society, we get pretty locked in – especially in this state like with hockey players. I mean, they’re playing freaking hockey 408 days a year. I mean, it’s just like loony. And so it wears on you, I would think. It’s just nice to have that variety.”

Just a week and a half since joining the team for practice March 30, Podominick has already improved on her throwing from her redshirt season last year, when she was consistently putting the shot approximately 46 feet.

Last season, Anderson broke down Podominick’s throws, helping Podominick understand what needed to improve in

her technique, Wilson said. Podominick said that she is still working on it daily.

“With shot, I was kind of shooting the shot put for a while,” she said. “And then, with (discus), it’s a lot of technique, and you kind of just have to get in rhythm.”

Jumping into the track and field season midstream has done nothing to hurt Podominick’s standing with the team. Wilson said she has blended into the team right away, even taking down 3,000-meter splits with distance runner Zoe Nagell.

And for the future, Wilson said, he thinks Podominick has great things in store.

“I know she’s got aspirations, I’m sure in basketball and in throwing beyond college,” Wilson said. “And I think her mentality – and I know it is with Lynne – is a long, long-term career. It’s not just these four years; it’s going to be way beyond that.”