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Sophomore Erin Wykoff is entering her second season as a versatile thrower on Virginia’s track and field team. Following an offseason surgery, Wykoff tossed a personal-best mark of 50′ 2″ in the weight throw on Friday at the season-opening VT Invite to improve to eighth on UVa’s all-time program records. This weekend, the Cavaliers will head back to Virginia Tech for the Hokie Invitational. Competition is scheduled to begin on Friday and conclude Saturday.

Question: How do you feel your transition into collegiate competition went last year?
Wykoff: My transition to collegiate competition was great. Having athletes like [All-Americans] Yemi Ayeni, Billie-Jo Grant and Caitlin Kelly, and Amy Bilmanis and Alexa Manning to look up to and receive advice from was a great help. It also doesn’t hurt to have a coach like Coach Lane who is so dedicated to the sport and learning every aspect of it, and coaching it well. Overall it’s been a great experience to come into.

Question: What did you have surgery on this offseason?
Wykoff: I had a torn meniscus, or cartilage, in my knee. The surgery went well and the rehab was good. Luckily, the meniscus is one of the fastest surgeries to recover from, so I started rehab three days after surgery and was back to 100 percent in about two months.

Question: How hard has it been to come back from?
Wykoff: It was a little difficult to come back from, mostly because it was my first surgery on any lower part of my body. It was a little hard to get used to crutches and not being able to go where I wanted as fast as I wanted. But other than that, the training staff was great about rehab and exercises to help me get back on track as soon as possible.

Question: You compete in both the shot put and weight throw indoors, and then the discus, hammer and shot put outdoors. What are the differences between each of the throws?
Wykoff: Depending on what kind of technique you use in the shot, it is either similar to the discus, which is called the spin, or very different if you glide. As for the other two, the weight is 20 lbs and is thrown indoors. The technique is very similar to the hammer, which is 4 kg or about 8.8 lbs, but it is only thrown outdoors.

Question: Do each of the events require a different skill to master?
Wykoff: Yes. Even though some of the footwork on some of the throws is similar, each one requires different skills. For example, the hammer is very similar to the weight. However, the hammer is only about 8.8 lbs and the weight is 20 lbs. So there are different things you have to do to your technique – such as sit back more or push on the ball harder. A couple differences between discus and shot are that the discus is a throw more about balance, finesse and at the end – power, whereas the shot put is faster and it’s necessary to have more power. There are many other differences between them all too.

Question: If you had to choose just one event to compete in for the rest of the year, which would you choose?
Wykoff: Oh, wow, that’s a tough one. I don’t think I could chose because I love them all. Though I have thrown shot and discus for a while, the challenge of learning new things -like the hammer and weight – makes it too much fun to be able to pick.

Question: How did you get into throwing?
Wykoff: I first started throwing in middle school. I had always been the type of kid to play sports all year round. Ever since I was 4-years-old, I played softball, soccer or basketball with others mixed in. Those three had always been my core sports.

But when I went to a school in a conference that didn’t have soccer or softball in middle school, I knew I wanted to try something new. I played volleyball in the fall, basketball in the winter and then track was the only spring sport offered, so I decided to give it a go and fell in love with it.

Question: Do you have any long-term goals in any of your specific throwing events?
Wykoff: I recently met with Coach Lane to talk about the year’s agenda. We call it an agenda because coach says goals are what we hope to achieve but an agenda is what we are going to do. There are many things I want to accomplish this year, among them are scoring at ACCs in several events and hitting certain marks throughout the year.

A team agenda, in the next two or three years, is to win an ACC team title, but I don’t want to jinx anything. Also, as any other athlete that is passionate about their sport, I would love to reach the level to be able to compete in the Olympics for the USA.

Question: What made you decide to come to Virginia to compete?
Wykoff: I was recruited by Coach Lane to come on an official visit to UVa and knew at the end of the two days that this was the school for me. I really liked the team, the coaches and the environment that UVa had to offer and decided that it was simply too great of an opportunity to pass up.

I am also fortunate to have very supportive parents who are always there for me, even at 800 miles away, which makes it easier being so far. And to have supportive friends both here at UVa and at home in southern Illinois makes being at Virginia such a great experience.

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