ASU’s Turner Washington Continues Rise To The Top By Setting New NCAA Record

Arizona Sports News online

Story by Evan Oscherwitz

Arizona State has produced some truly great shot putters over the years. 2012 Olympian and world indoor champion Ryan Whiting, four-time NCAA champion Jordan Clarke and two-time NCAA women’s champion Maggie Ewen are just a few examples of world-class throwers who have donned the maroon and gold in recent times.

Last Saturday, Turner Washington added his name to that list of standouts by setting a new NCAA record at the Texas Tech Shootout. On his final throw of the day, Washington launched a shot that travelled 21.85 meters, besting the previous record of 21.81 meters set by North Dakota State’s Payton Otterdahl in 2019.

“When it happened, I was in shock,” Washington said. “I wasn’t throwing my best the whole meet and then when I saw it land. I was like ‘oh, that’s pretty far.’ I wasn’t completely sure that it was a national record, then [coach Brian Blutreich] told me.”

In breaking the all-time NCAA record, Washington also eclipsed Ryan Whiting’s school record of 21.73 meters, which had stood since 2008. In addition to being a momentous individual accomplishment for Washington, his record-breaking performance may be a sign of great things ahead for Arizona State’s track program.

“Frankly, it means everything, for Turner to break a 13-year old school record,” head coach Dion Miller said. “It’s definitely an indicator to the team that we’re on the right path. Getting back in the national conversation, that’s something that’s easier said than done. It was just very liberating for all of us.”  

An accomplished discus thrower at Canyon Del Oro High School in his native Tucson, Washington only began regularly competing in the shot-put after transferring to ASU from the University of Arizona in 2018. After redshirting his first year in Tempe and fine-tuning his technique, he earned All-America honors last season. 

“I still think of myself as a discus thrower,” Washington said. “I just haven’t had the opportunity to throw it since I was at the U of A. A lot of the reason why the [shot-put] was able to really take off is coming in I didn’t have that many bad habits with the rotational shot. There wasn’t as much technical breakdown, I would say, as we had to go through with the disc.

In just three years, Washington has gone from a raw talent with minimal shot-put experience to an NCAA record holder. While the significance of the achievement is not lost on him, he has made sure not to let his historic performance distract him from his goal of winning a national championship.

“I gave myself 24 hours to really enjoy it,” Washington said. “Now, it’s time to move on and get back to work. Records get broken all the time, but national championships are forever.”

Given his strong start to the season, a national championship could well be in the cards for Washington. He is now fully healthy after recovering from a stress fracture in his pelvis during the offseason, and he graduated from ASU in December with a degree in conservation biology and ecology, which has given him extra rest and more time to concentrate on perfecting his throwing technique. 

“I think it’s a major thing,” Washington said. “I remember there would be times at practice where I’d be thinking about an assignment or a test. Right now, I can just be in the moment and focus on what it is exactly that I’m doing, and I’m able to go to bed earlier. It’s really helping.”

With a clean bill of health, an improved training routine and a new collegiate record under his belt, Washington looks to be in for another stellar season.

The Summer Olympics are only months away, and a strong performance in the NCAA championships could put him on the fast track to make the American delegation in Tokyo.

The next few months will be crucial in determining his future, but Washington’s career path has proven that he only gets better as time goes on. Don’t be surprised if that trend continues.

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