Track and field: It’s all about technique

I left work a little early yesterday to go watch the track meet between Desert Vista High School and Brophy and Xavier at the new Brophy Sports Complex.  The dual meet was the first event ever held at the new, nine-acre facility just north of  Xavier at Seventh Street and Highland.  I went not only to see the opening of the new facility, but also to see Juliann Lieb (daughter of Phoenix realtor Bobby Lieb and Raising Arizona Kids Marketing Director MaryAnn Ortiz-Lieb) throw the discus.

Juliann Lieb competes at yesterday's track and field meet. Photo by Daniel Friedman.

Two and a half weeks ago, Juliann won the discus event among 39 competitors at the Chandler Rotary Track Invitational, which attracts top track athletes from around the Southwest and California.

As I watched Juliann practice her graceful, three-step spin and throwing motion (click here for short video of Juliann and teammates throwing the discus), I spoke with one of her coaches, Tim O’Neil.

“Track and field has a tremendous amount of technique; the biggest and fastest [person] doesn’t always win,” said O’Neil, who is also a partner in the HIT Center (High Intensity Training) in Mesa. “All team sports involve gross motor skills, but track and field and other individual sports involve fine motor skills. There can be a big difference in your throws, just with just slight differences in how you hold the discus.”

When I asked O’Neil what attracted girls to throwing the discus, his answer had nothing to do with physical skills. “You find girls who like camaraderie and being outside,” he said.

And that was borne out by watching Juliann. She didn’t have her best day and her best throw was about eight feet less than her winning throw at the Chandler Rotary Invitational. But she was smiling, having fun and enjoying her last month in high school before starting college next fall at ASU’s Barrett Honors College.

She and many of her teammates had written the initials “RM” on their arms to remember their classmate, Robby Mayasich, who died last month after he was struck by a car on February 27 while he was participating in the Ragnar Del Sol relay race from Prescott to Mesa. It was a beautiful day to be outside and Juliann — and everyone else at the Brophy Sports Complex — were enjoying just being there. — Dan


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