In 2008, ASU sophomore Ryan Whiting broke a highly respected 31 year-old NCAA record previously set by former outdoor world record holder Terry Albritton. Ryan Whiting’s mark of 21.73M ESPN2 was accomplished under some pressure from Russ Winger in the 6th round. Since 1977, many stellar shot putters (World and Olympic Champions) came through the NCAA. They had all tried and failed to break this formidable record. Ryan Whiting accomplished the NCAA record feat as a sophomore.
How did you get started with throwing and who introduced you to throwing?
I played Goal Keeper in soccer on my Junior High soccer team in both 7th and 8th grade. I had been approached to play JV football by the high school coaches starting in 8th grade but decided to wait to jump on that boat until I got to High School. Soccer season was typically in the fall for my Junior High so this opened me up to pick up a Spring sport. My then and still best friend, Evan Schmidt (an illustration major in college, 5’7″ 150#), suggested that I go out for track and field. At that point I was probably about 6′ 1″ 240# and really hated running, but when he mentioned that we would be throwing I decided to give it a try. I loved it from the start, I threw the 4k shot and 1k disc 45′ and 151′ respectively. At this point I was doing a shuffle in the shot and a wheel, or half turn in the disc and only lost one time my 8th grade year in the shot put. One of the biggest draws to throwing for me was the very personal nature of the competition, whether you do poorly or well it is on you completely.
Were you in any other sports before you were throwing?
I played about 8 years of soccer ending after 8th grade, 8 years of baseball ending in 6th grade and about 4-5 years of roller hockey mixed in there.
Who has been your biggest help/influence in your throwing career so far?
I would say that my biggest influence in my throwing career so far is Glenn Thompson, my high school coach and editor of Long and Strong Throwers Journal. I met Glenn the Summer after my Freshmen year when i had a pr of 51′ 7″ with the 12# from a stand throw and a 145′ discus pr from a wheel. I started working with Glenn Thompson soon after meeting him. I played football through the Summer between Freshmen and Sophomore year and then much to Glenn’s delight I decided to quit and focus on throwing year-round. I worked with Glenn on doing a full spin in both shot and discus about 2-3 times a week all year. My sophomore year ended with prs of 59′ and 181′ in the shot and discus. I continued training with Glenn throughout high school with Junior prs of 65′ and 193′ and senior prs of 70′ and 201′. Glenn taught me to spin and showed me how tightly knit the throwing community is. I love the sport to this day.
How was your training (was it same or different) leading up to your 2008 NCAA record?
My training leading up to the 2008 Indoor season was exactly the same as it had been in years past. I did get stronger, adding 55# in bench, 40# in squat and 45# in clean. The most important thing I think is that I stayed healthy enough to use this strength and get the throwing reps I needed to take my throwing to the next level.
How did you feel after coming within 3cm of the NCAA outdoor record?
At that point in the season there were 3 possible outcomes for me at the outdoor NCAA Championships. 1. I could PR and break the record 2. I could PR and not break the record. 3. I Could not PR and not break the record. I went into the meet of course trying for outcome One. The meet ended up being my most consistent of the year (minus my first throw) with 5 throws over 68′ 6″, 3 over 71′ and my PR of 72’1″. Despite being 3cm short of the record I was very happy with a new PR and the meet in general. I am slightly disappointed that I did not get the record but very happy with my season and I am ready to move to the next level.
What are your best and worst abilities as a thrower?
I would say that within my throw I have three things that I do well: 1. I believe that I have a very good feel for the shot throughout the throw. In general I know where it is and can make slight corrections during the throw. 2. I feel that I have very good speed as a thrower. 3. When I get into the power position I can extend and finish far over the toe-board, allowing me to push on the shot for a long time. At practice one thing that I feel that I do well is not dwelling on bad throws within a practice but rather trying to learn from what I did well. A few things that I feel I need to work on are: 1. Getting off my left in the back of the circle a little earlier. 2. Altering my wind up so that I can control my entry a little more. 3. Working on getting my left foot down a little more quickly in the front of the ring while holding separation. 4. My left arm block, it has never been good and I really need to work on it.
How did you handle a close family loss while still a student at ASU?
Last July my mom had a routine knee scope. On July 5th I was in AZ still and I got a call from my dad saying that my mom was having a hard time breathing while walking outside our house in PA so he called an ambulance. By the time they got there she was in really bad shape. She went into respiratory and eventually cardiac arrest in the ambulance as a result of a blood clot which traveled from her knee to her lung. They revived her and I flew in that night. She was in a coma for about a week before passing away on July 13th. I was going to train in AZ all Summer but instead decided to stay in PA with my family. A few of my teammates from ASU and coach Dumble came all the way to PA to help support me. I really didn’t lift seriously or with any regularity for about a month and a half over the summer. The most time I had taken off any other year was only about 2-3 weeks. The time off really made me eager to get back into training with the team. I also decided as a result of this time off with my family that after my senior season I wanted to move back closer to home. While back at school I tried to stay very busy and surround myself with my friends, teammates and now fiance’ Ashley. Ashley understood exactly what I was going through because she had lost her mother in March 2009 while competing at the PAC-10 swimming championships. I tried to focus all of my anger/grief from what happened into my training and throwing. It was a very hard time but as a result my dad, brothers, Ashley and I are much closer.
Who if any, are your technical models?
At this point in my career I am not really trying to emulate anyone in particular with my throw, I am kind of a hodgepodge.
What are your plans for training, coaching and competitions post collegiate?
As i said above, when my mother passed away i decided that I needed to be close to home. I looked at training areas on the east coast and decided to train at Penn State University with Coach TJ Crater. TJ and head coach Beth Alford-Sullivan were extremely receptive to my training at PSU. I was very happy that Coach Dumble and TJ were willing to both work together to help me continue to develop as a thrower. I will be doing day to day throwing and lifting with TJ and video analysis with Coach Dumble so that he can help me if I am having any glaring technical difficulties. I am very excited to train at PSU, but at the same time I will miss ASU. Dumble and I parted on very good terms and I am very happy for that. Sometimes it is just time for a change. As for 2011 competitions, i really have no idea what meets I will be competing in other than USA Outdoor Nationals and The Nike Prefontaine Classic. I havn’t yet had time to sit down with my coaches and agent to discuss a competition schedule.
What is your training PR with the 16? How much of a difference is there between your training and competition throws?
My training PR with the 16# shot is 22.19m from late may of this year. My furthest ever throw however was a warm up at PAC-10’s this year that was measured after the meet at just over 73′, so about 22.25m. This year was the first year that my training PR exceeded competition PR. In the past my meets would be anywhere from 1′-3′ further than my best practice throw. When I first hit 70′ 5″ (21.47m) indoor in 2008 my training PR was probably around 20.70m. The fact that training this year went further this year is just an indication to me that I left some in the tank in competitions. I feel that if I would have hit a very good throw in a meet this year it would have been around 22.40m-22.50m. The fact that I feel this way makes me very excited for next year.
How did high school coaching prepare your for a collegiate career?
I was lucky to have a very good high school coaching experience. I had a very good coach at my high school, Michael Sage, as well as a personal coach, Glenn Thompson. Mike Sage went to my high school and then went on to throw at Shippensburg University. Glenn also threw at Shippensburg University, but then went on and started Long And Strong Throwers Journal. I trained with Glenn in the track off season 2-3 times a week and lifted on my own 4-5 times a week. During the season I would go to my high school track practice with Mike Sage, then 2-3 times a week I would throw with Glenn as well. One of the biggest things that working with both Glenn and Mike taught me was that different coaches have different things to offer. They also taught me to respond to different coaching styles positively, which helped me a lot when going to college. A lot of people coming out of high school think that their high school coach is the best coach that they will ever have, I think that this way of thinking will severely limit their ability to improve in college under a different coach. If a high school coach really cares about an athlete they will talk to them about collegiate coaches and encourage them to listen to that coach. I think that both of my coaches did a very good job of this and ultimately made my transition to college very easy.
What are the main areas that coach Dumble contributed to your success at ASU?
Dumble did a lot for me while I was at ASU. I think that one thing that I really liked about his coaching style is that he helped me work to my strengths. By this I mean that he assessed what I did well and tried his best to get me to emphasize these areas of the throw. Outside of Dumble being a very good technical coach he also wrote all of our lifting workouts, made sure we were happy within our personal lives and stayed on top of people who were having trouble in school.
What are your goals for the future?
I would like to stay healthy first and foremost, without being healthy everything else kind of goes out the window. In the relative short term I would like to train to make the 2011 World Outdoor Championships in Daegu S.K. At this point I have not really discussed a definite distance goal for next season but I would like to be in the range of 22.20+, most likely a little higher. Another goal of mine is to make the 2012 Olympics in London, I feel that I will be much more prepared for the next trials than I was for the last one.
Thanks Gerry McEvoy and MACTHROWVIDEO for a wonderful interview.