Citizen Staff Writer
The form was perfect, a classic shot-putter’s spin.
Face the rear of the circle, twist around the left foot, drive the right into the middle of the circle, reach for the front with the left foot and twist the hip and shoulders.
Finally, heave the iron ball and let loose with a primal scream.
Zack Lloyd’s shot landed with a thud of dust a few yards short of the “end zone,” the dirt beyond the 20-meter boundary.
Another training throw. Lots of application and movement but no threat to the man’s 69-foot (21 meters) personal best.
“I never look for it (the 20-meter mark),” Lloyd said. “I just concentrate on what I have to do.”
Lloyd is saving his deepest gut check for “the show,” his last NCAA Championships, which will be held next month.
He’s also busy watching his wife, Nicole, also a senior Arizona shot put and discus thrower. It’s not uncommon for the track and field pros to have a husband-wife combo, but it’s very rare in college.
For Zack to Nicole, it’s more appreciation than advice.
“My job is to keep her happy, not coach her, to give her positive reinforcement, keep her focused,” he said, citing a golden rule of domestic harmony.
The two have different technical styles born of the “spin” moves for shot and discus as opposed to the “glide,” in which one swings the launch leg (left for a right-hander) and violently swings the body toward the target.
“I’m very technically conscious,” said Nicole, who favors the discus, “and it’s been tough since I went to the spin (move) at UA. It took a long time.
“I’m a late bloomer at UA. My trouble used to be sitting around thinking too much.”
Zack is more of pure power thrower.
They met at high school track and field meets. Zack, originally from Redding, Calif., was at White Pine High, in Ely, Nev., and Nicole in the Salt Lake City suburb of Bountiful. They began dating when Zach was a freshman at Utah State in Logan and Nicole at the University of Utah.
They both attended and competed at Mesa Community College before coming to UA last year after mutual friend Craig Carter joined the UA staff in 2007.
“We were married in seven months,” Nicole said. “Fast, I guess an LDS thing.”
Nicole is a Mormon, Zach is not, but Zach said there relationship is “not so much religion, (but) a Utah thing.”
Zack, 6 feet 2 and 305 pounds, is a three-time All-American and Nicole earned her first All-American honor in the NCAA Indoor Championships this year with a shot put mark of 52-3 1/4. Her best for the outdoor season is 49-4 in a qualification for the NCAA regionals, set for May 29 at Eugene, Ore.
Her career bests are 170-1 in the discus and 52-5 in shot put.
Zack has a regional qualification mark this year of 157-8 for the discus.
The two have big plans for the future.
“Our goal is to own a gym somewhere,” Zack said.
Not some sterile, glossy works but a nice, nasty sweat place with lots of echoes and clanging.
“Real old-time style,” he said.
Lloyds exerting maximum efforts for the Wildcats