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Along with Nick Gwiazdowski dominating the FinalX: Bethlehem this past weekend, I also had athletes competing at the USATF Outdoor National Championships in track and field in Des Moines, Iowa. The Garage Strength athletes who qualified were Sam Mattis and Josh Syrotchen in the men’s discus, and Mo Riddick and Rachel Fatherly in the women’s shot. Just about everyone was feeling good going into the meet. Sam was ranked #1, Mo had been grooving some throws recently, and I knew Rachel was in a spot to make some big moves up the board. Personally, I had never been more confident going into a meet in terms of my throwers’ ability to hit big marks. I knew I had set them up well physically and mentally, and we had all checked off our boxes during our prep.
Even with the scheduling issues (Women’s shot started on Sunday at 2:10pm and men’s discus started at 2:20pm), we took time in the days leading up to the competition to discuss how we wanted to handle this problem. I clearly explained to each of them what I wanted them to do: I wanted Sam to open with something solid (which he did) to take some pressure off of me. Rachel had been throwing really well in training and I wanted her to just focus on replicating her training form as best she could. Of course, I arrived to Des Moines on Friday four hours later than planned due to flight delays, and so Sam and Mo had already thrown that day. I was able to get some time with Rachel, and she looked great positionally. At that point, I knew she was going to throw well on Sunday.
Going into Saturday, Josh and Rachel took completely off, while Mo opted to do some mobility and meditation work. Sam practiced and looked awesome. We only took a few throws and he had a nice easy one at the end that was a bomb, and we both got some confidence from that. I think days like Saturday are really what set our group apart. We are always focused on perfecting every aspect of our game that we can, from lifting and throwing, to mobility and meditation/visualization. Success in elite athletics is a puzzle with a lot of pieces, and we are always focused on putting them together.
Sunday morning, everyone was ready to go. Sam and Josh went to a local high school and took four throws, and just focused on honing in on the cues that we had discussed for the days leading up. Josh found a great throw during this session, and that made both of us more confident going into the competition. Getting into the competitions, Rachel was the first athlete up. She slightly missed the finish on her first throw, but even with that, both she and I knew she could smash one that day. She got it on her second throw, and I was confident she would be able to make the final with the mark (she did). Unfortunately, the first overlap between the two competitions happened with Josh and Rachel, so I was only able to see Josh’s third throw. I think he would have been helped by my presence, but these are the issues that we encounter when our governing body screws with scheduling.
As the second flights of both competitions began, I knew I wanted to be over at the men’s discus with Sam. I asked Rachel to relay my instructions for the meet to Mo, and then I ran over to catch Sam’s warm ups. He looked great in warm ups, and we both felt he could carry it through to the competition. He opened real big at 65 meters, just as we had planned, and immediately put himself in a great position as well as putting pressure on the field. Over at the shot, Mo immediately grabbed control of fourth and competed hard to keep that spot. As the finals progressed, Reggie Jagers found a big throw in the men’s discus and Mason Finley did what he normally does and is good when he needs to be. Sam had the best series of his life in one of the best men’s discus competitions ever in the US. Rachel and Mo went after their throws with everything they had and beat some big names on their way to 8th and 4th place finishes, respectively. Overall, I think the meet went about as well as it could have gone.
Moving forward, with Sam, I’d like to be a little more critical technically. He’s still overly jumpy on his finish, and doesn’t rotate into the finish as well as I’d want. Mo just needs to continue practicing meditation and working on being more positive long term. Rachel and I have already identified and discussed some physical and technical changes we want to make, and I know she’s ready to attack those weaknesses. I genuinely think that Rachel and Mo are going to be an absolute force in American women’s shot in the years to come. For Josh, the biggest things are becoming more technically minded and following my programming more closely. I am confident that we will send a huge squad of GS throwers to USA’s next year, and we will all be ready to smash once we get there.