Missouri's Peoples ready for SEC track and field championships after disappointing indoor season

Wednesday, May 8, 2013 | 9:13 p.m. CDT; updated 11:24 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 8, 2013

COLUMBIA — Missouri redshirt sophomore Kearsten Peoples left the 2012 Southeastern Conference Track and Field Indoor Championships disappointed, confused and frustrated.

What happened to all the progress she made in the shot put that summer? Just five months before the SEC Indoor Championships, Peoples threw the shot 59 feet 5 inches at the U.S. Olympic Trials. The personal-best throw earned the Ottawa, Kan., native a fourth-place finish, one place shy of a spot on the 2012 U.S. Olympic team, one place shy of a trip to Beijing.

Meet Information

2013 Southeastern Conference Outdoor Men's and Women's Track and Field Championships at MU's Audrey J. Walton Stadium

THURSDAY (first event at 11:30 a.m., last event at 2 p.m.) — MISSOURI ATHLETES TO WATCH: Katrine Haarklau, heptathlon, versatile athlete also competing in javelin throw, pole vault, and Ser Whitaker, decathlon, sophomore contending for All-SEC Honors. OTHER ATHLETES TO WATCH: Jeremy Postin, hammer throw, Florida senior ranked first in the SEC, finished 14th in 2012's U.S. Olympic Trials.

FRIDAY: (first event at 11:30 a.m., last event at 8:45 p.m.) — MISSOURI ATHLETES TO WATCH: Max Storms, 10,000 meters, school record holder ranked fourth in the SEC, and Kearsten Peoples, hammer throw, ranked sixth in the SEC, also competing in shot put, discus. OTHER ATHLETES TO WATCH: Jimmy Clark, 10,000 meters, freshman ranked second in the SEC, earned SEC Freshman of the Year honors for cross country.

SATURDAY (first event at 1 p.m., last event at 6:30 p.m.) — MISSOURI ATHLETES TO WATCH: Markesh Woodson, 100-meter prelims, freshman who won the SEC 60-meter dash in February; Kearsten Peoples, discus, 2012 All-American ranked third in the SEC; Macauley Garton, javelin, earned All-Big 12 honors last year; and Katrine Haarklau, pole vault, school record holder ranked sixth in the SEC. OTHER ATHLETES TO WATCH: LaQue Moen-Davis, long jump, Texas A&M redshirt freshman ranked first among SEC women with a personal best of 21 feet 2.5 inches.

SUNDAY (first event at 1 p.m., last event at 6:35 p.m.) — MISSOURI ATHLETES TO WATCH: Dan Quigley, 5000 meters, senior ranked second in the SEC, holds school record; Kearsten Peoples, shot put, 2012 All-American ranked first in the SEC, sixth in the nation; and Katrine Haarklau, javelin throw, ranked fourth in the SEC, personal best throw of 162 feet 7 inches. OTHER ATHLETES TO WATCH: Kemoy Campbell, 5000 meters, ranked sixth in the NCAA national rankings, first in the SEC.

ADMISSION: All-session pass for adults: $20; all-session pass for children: $10; single day pass for adults: $10; single day pass for children: $5.

Complete event schedule

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At the SEC Indoor Championships, something didn’t feel right. Peoples struggled with her technique. Without a proper approach, she couldn’t display what made her one of the best throwers in the U.S.: power.

“My technique wasn’t clicking at the time,” Peoples said.

Three times in a row Peoples did the same twisting, turning dance only to end with a scratch. After the third, Peoples knew she was disqualified from the event.

In the spring, Peoples focused on fundamentals, changing the start of her technique to become more consistent. Finally, Peoples said, she is starting to feel that confidence come back.

“She was struggling most of the season,” sophomore thrower Jill Rushin said. “Watching her outdoors right now, I see her getting her feel back.”

Rushin, who has trained with Peoples for two years, would know. She’s seen just how dominant her teammate can be, like at last year’s NCAA Outdoor Championships. There, Peoples finished sixth in the shot put and the discus, earning two All-American honors. Rushin wasn’t surprised. After all, several times a week she witnessed Peoples outlift her teammates by 100 pounds in nearly every lift.

“She’s very, very powerful,” Rushin said.

At the SEC Championships beginning Thursday, Peoples said she’s ready to show the competition in Missouri’s new conference what she’s capable of. All this time, Peoples' frustrating disqualification at the Indoor Championships has pushed her to improve. In addition to the shot put, Peoples will compete in the discus and hammer throw.

“I just want to prove that the meet was fluke,” she said.

Supervising editor is Greg Bowers.

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