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State Track Thurs 16

Riceville's Abby Marr throws the shot put Thursday during the Iowa High School Track and Field Championships at Drake Stadium in Des Moines.

CHRIS ZOELLER, The Globe Gazette

DES MOINES – There are a lot of seemingly similar events in track and field: triple vs long jump, 100 vs 400 hurdles or shot put vs discus. 

One might think that if you're good at one, you're good at the other. 

Runners are often multi-event participants, especially in relays, but the same can't always be said for field events. Athletes might come down to the Drake Relays for just one competition.

Except Riceville junior Abby Marr, who came down for both the shot put and discus. 

"I made it down only in shot last year," Marr said. "So it was a goal of mine to make it down here in both this year and both next year." 

On Thursday, April 26, Marr held her own as a class 1A competitor in a field of larger schools, including some from southern Iowa, not affected by the snow cancellations.

"Today is my third meet," Marr said. "I work in the gym a lot, went to a couple of indoor meets, and that was awesome that those are available to me, get in the weight room, get outside when you can." 

Marr's qualifying mark of 38 feet, 11.05 inches in the shot put came from a meet in Pella on March 17. Her qualifying mark of 124-10 in discus was at Decorah on April 12. 

She made the most of what she could, but on Thursday, she's soaking up being among the best at Drake. 

"Just being in this atmosphere," Marr said. "You’ve got Tom Walsh and Ryan Crouser, the Olympic and world record holders for the shot put, and it’s awesome to be down on the turf at the same time." 

Marr finishes the shot put competition with a throw of 36-10.5 for 18th overall. On Friday, she finishes 22nd in the discus with a throw of 107-1. 

Neither are her best, but Marr knows what she needs to work on.

"I gotta get that spin down," Marr said. "I do like a South African modified thing, but I really need to get that full-spin down."

The South African is a common drill for throwers who are working to get to the full-spin motion. Marr drives one leg to the middle of the ring then pushes off with the other to generate power from the back and rotate forward. 

Elite throwers can finish in a full 360 spin-like motion, which puts more power behind the shot. 

Her mom and throwing coach, Sherry Marr, has been working with Marr since last summer on the full spin.

"She needs to work on speed across the circle," Sherry said on Thursday. "She’ll be fine, she's got a good head on her shoulders." 

"Things didn’t go bad today, it just wasn’t where she wanted to be."

But Sherry says that Marr is twice the athlete she ever was as a thrower. 

"I never made it down to state," Sherry said. "She's way over my league." 

Marr is a student of the sport, hoping to compete in college someday, which shows when she speaks about her technique and the professional throwers she follows on social media. 

"I try to watch a lot of their videos and see what I can do or take from them to put into my throws." Marr said. "State would be good to bring out the full spin."

After watching the second flight of shot put competitors, Marr runs down the field with her mom to meet Crouser and Walsh. 

Crouser was the 2016 Rio Olympic gold medalist in the shot put with a throw of 22.52 meters, and Walsh holds the current outdoor record at 22.67 meters.

She stands between them for a quick picture and walks back to watch the finals of the shot put.

Maybe she'll be in them next year. 

​Reach sports reporter Leah Vann at 641-421-0526.

Follow her on twitter at @GG_LeahVann

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