March 26, 2012
By Megan Morgan
SEATTLE - In a sport centered on precision; inches, centimeters, minutes and seconds; to improve is to succeed. For star thrower, Angus Taylor, this has been his main goal during his three years thus far at the University of Washington.
Recently finishing up his third indoor season for the Huskies, Taylor closed out the final meet with a significant personal record in the weight throw of 62-feet, 7.75-inches. For a seasoned athlete such as himself, big PR's can often be difficult to come by.
But, for Taylor, a native of Richmond, British Columbia, it's all about just improving incrementally year to year. To improve and to perform at one's best, according to Taylor, gives an athlete the best shot at making it onto the national scene of collegiate competition.
A senior outdoors this spring who now trades the weight throw for the hammer throw, Taylor has been agonizingly close to making the final site of the NCAA Champioships the past two years. At NCAA Prelims, the top twelve advance on to the final site. In 2010, Taylor placed 13th, the first man out of nationals, and last year he wound up 17th after a career-best fifth-place finish at the Pac-10 Championships.
Last season was a challenge for Taylor as he had his appendix removed before the season which cut into his training significantly. He was able to increase his hammer PR yet again, but by just six inches to 201-6 (No. 7 in Washington history). Fully healthy now, Taylor says "the main goal for me is to make it to the NCAA meet at the end of the year. I only had a really small improvement throughout the last outdoor season, but this season with nothing holding me back, I'm definitely looking for a large PR in the hammer throw."
In order to improve over his marks last season, Taylor has had to adapt to a new coach and the altered training style of Washington's new throws coach, T.J. Crater. As a new coach on the scene, Crater focuses on form and technicality with his athletes with the hopes of helping them improve steadily throughout the season. Taylor's response to the coaching change was one of surprise, but also an excitement with the possibility of finding new angles in which to better himself as an athlete.
Of Coach Crater's technical coaching style, Taylor noted, "I definitely think it has helped me improve. He brings a few different things to the table that kind of help the throwers understand what they're supposed to be doing technically."
With a more focused approach on form, Taylor hopes to see himself competing well at Pac-12s and beyond this season. "My goal is always to just improve," says Taylor. "Even throughout high school, I set the bar high and try to reach it."
As team captain of the throws squad, Taylor is a laidback, unassuming guy. Sure, he has high expectations for himself no doubt. But the goals he verbalizes speak to his down-to-earth demeanor. To simply improve; to better oneself. And to reach this goal, it takes a mature athlete to recognize that improvement occurs in a series of steps up to the greater accomplishment; many steps upward, but some also backwards from the ultimate destination. Faced with injury and seasons with little improvement in the past, Taylor has a clear perspective of the patience, hard work and dedication it takes to do simply get better.
Taylor says that expectations of the throws squad are always high. Of the throws squad Taylor laughed a bit, "We're always looking for ways to beat one another in order to make each other better."
A big senior season could also set up Taylor for a post-collegiate career. "I'll be going home to train with my high school coach, who is well known for coaching in Canada," says Taylor. "I'll train with him and if I see drastic improvement, I'll continue throwing and see if I can make it to (the World Championships.)
Hammer throwers usually don't peak until they're 30. I've always improved every season, so I don't see any reason that I can't continue."
Reflecting on a career still with the best to come, the modest Taylor said that he'll be written down in the record books, but beyond that, "I hope I leave the legacy of working hard. Trying to push yourself as well as your teammates to get better, to stay focused, and to do as your coach tells you," he says. "Guys will come to knock off records. There are freshmen now that hopefully I've rubbed off on and will continue to feel the same way as far as succeeding as a team and individually."
Hopefully they'll remember one thing, if nothing else--to continue to strive for improvement. To simply aim to better oneself as an athlete each and every day. That has been the name of his game, and clearly it has worked well so far.