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April 8, 2016

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THROWING FOR GOLD Junior thrower Shay Aator practices the skill that won her a conference crown. 

Aator Finishes Indoor Season at Nationals

Guerby Ruuska

It has been a journey of progression for junior thrower Shay Aator, who has just kicked off her outdoor track and field season after completing her indoor season with a bang. Aator finished her indoor season strong with a conference crown and a ticket to nationals in Iowa, but it didn’t all happen overnight for this junior.

“I won my first individual title my first year outdoors,” Aator said. “I won the hammer, so the fall of my sophomore year I had a couple of conversations with Coach Allison and Coach Cashdollar for what my goals would be for the rest of my career at Manchester. That’s when I decided I wanted to be a conference champion for the next 3 years.  I would never say I expect to win but I would definitely say that’s what I strive for.”

Aator says that coaches Kyle Allison and Brian Cashdollar have played major roles in her success. Cashdollar recruited Aator out of high school and Allison works closely with the throwers and has helped Aator believe in herself.

“Recruiting at the DIII level is pretty difficult in a lot of ways,” Cashdollar said. “Without athletic scholarships you are just trying to create a relationship with the prospective athlete so that they are excited about Manchester. With Shay, we knew that she had all the physical abilities to be a very successful thrower.”

With most great athletes, it takes trying a few sports out before you find your passion.

“My freshman year of high school I decided to go out for the track team,” Aator said. “My high school coach usually lets everyone try everything once, so I went through sprint practice--wasn’t a fan, tried jumping--wasn’t really coordinated for that, so I tried shot and disc and really liked it, so I decided to stick with that.”  

Aator is a native of West Lafayette, Ind., and came out of a very competitive high school. She had the talent, but there is a lot more that played into the junior’s success. For instance, she is a very patient individual who understands the sport extremely well.

“Outdoor is definitely a different environment,” she said. “The surface is different. Indoors, we’re throwing off of plywood. Outdoors, we’re throwing off of segment--and it also depends on the facility. Facilities like IU and North Central treat their segment so it’s a lot slicker but then at our facility, Anderson and Defiance it is a bit more gritty with grip.”

Every athlete strives to hit that break-out year, but it doesn’t necessarily come naturally; it comes with hard work, pain, time, dedication and passion.

“I definitely had to put time and effort into it,” Aator said. “I’m one of those people where, if I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it to my best ability. A lot of it is being critical of myself. Once I set my mind to something, I don’t rest until I accomplish my goal.”

Cashdollar agreed. “Shay will need to remind herself that success is a result of a functional and progressive training model,” he stated. “Basically she needs to continue to work hard in the weight room and in the rings to continue to get better.”

What drives Aator to do what she does best day after day, week after week, year after year? She admits that it’s her friends, her family, her team and her coaches. Especially Allison, who helps Aator stay focused and thinking positive daily.

“Coach Allison is without a doubt the best throws coach we have had at Manchester since I started 17 years ago,” Cashdollar said. “He brings a great deal of passion, knowledge, and competitiveness to the practice and meets. He is also a very competitive recruiter, so behind the scenes he is has done a tremendous job helping us achieve success in all areas of the program.”

The women’s and men’s outdoor track and field teams will compete at the Huntington University Invitational on April 9 at 11 a.m.