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WOMEN’S TRACK AND FIELD: For Marshall, sky’s the limit

May 17, 2017 GMT

CHICAGO — It was in failure that Mount Carmel High School graduate Dylan Marshall may have found her latest success.

Now a freshman thrower this spring for the women’s track and field team at DePaul University in Chicago, Marshall struggled to toss the shot put at the collegiate level.

“At first, it started to weigh on me. I wasn’t doing very well (in shot put), even though I was enjoying my college experience,” said Marshall, who was a two-time IHSA Class 2A state qualifier in shot put. “At the beginning of the outdoor season, I went to my coach and asked to throw the javelin.”

At first, Blue Demons’ assistant coach Brandon Murer, whose expertise is in throws, wasn’t quite sold on Marshall. Murer told her that she needed to have a throw of 40 meters (131 feet, 2¾ inches) to begin being competitive.

A javelin is a spear that, for women, measures up to 7 feet, 7 inches in length and weighs 21 ounces. The javelins thrown by men measure up to 8 feet, 10 inches in length and weigh 28 ounces.

But like a javelin flying high through the air, Marshall’s collegiate athletic career began to take off.

Marshall has produced six top-five finishes in seven meets this season. Her shortest throw sailed 115-1 and came after her best throw, 142-4¼, which ranks as the second farthest toss among female throwers in the Big East Conference this season. She has four throws of 131-6 or farther this season.

“I told myself that I was going to throw a javelin 40 meters. I began focusing on that,” said Marshall, who had never thrown one until she went to DePaul. “Ever since then, it’s been going very well in the outdoor season. I’ve been able to take off the pressure of throwing the shot put, which has allowed me to PR in that in every meet since.”

Villanova junior Caroline Hamilton leads the Big East with a throw of 146-3½, which came April 29 at the 123rd Penn Relays.

At the Big East Conference Track and Field Championships hosted by Villanova last weekend in Philadelphia, Marshall placed fourth in the league in javelin after a toss of 127-1.

“There is a strategy in throwing the javelin, depending on wind conditions,” Marshall said. “Since it’s so light, a small amount of wind can push it left or right. There are two kinds of javelins that we throw, a standard one and another for wind. You have to pick the right one because the wind could make it could tip or turn. You have to be very careful and precise.”

The hammer used in college sports is not like any of the tools also called by that name. It consists of a metal ball attached by a steel wire to a grip. In women’s college hammer, it measures 3-11 and weights 8.82 pounds.

Marshall has yet to break the top 10 in the hammer, but she has been close. She ended up 11th at the Big East Championships with a throw of 118-8½. Her best toss this season went 127-0½.

Marshall has two top-five finishes in shot put this season. One of those went 30-11, while the other traveled 29-2½ to help her place fifth in the Big East Championships. Marshall’s best shot put toss this season covered 40-5¾.

Marshall, who is majoring in sociology with a focus on crime, criminology and law and minoring in psychology, has adjusted from life in small town Mount Carmel to metropolitan, urban Chicago.

“It’s so different living and going to school in Chicago,” Marshall said. “Coming from a small town, everyone, pretty much, knows everyone, and most people think the same way. The diversity that you have in a place like Chicago is extremely vast and different.”

Marshall said she takes the L — short for elevated train — to class at DePaul.

Some of the perks of competing for an NCAA Division I school like DePaul is traveling to meets throughout the nation via airplanes and competing in huge stadiums.

“It’s absolutely amazing that we get to fly everywhere for our meets. I had only flown once before, going back-and-forth to Mexico. Now, I’m a frequent flier,” Marshall said.

Marshall said flying from Chicago to Los Angeles in early April for the Beach Invitational at Cal State-Long Beach was a memorable experience.

The Blue Demons also supply a team trainer, who makes recommendations on anything from weightlifting to exercise to eating.

Despite big changes in her life, Marshall said her new-found success is challenged by distractions.

“Living in Chicago can be so distracting that it also can be boring,” Marshall said. “There is so much you can do here and, being a DePaul student, we get discounts to shop or eat at a variety places. But I have used this opportunity to focus on my sport, my school work and all aspects of my life.”