Indiana high school track and field doesn’t include the 20-pound weight throw as an event for its indoor competitions, so Purdue redshirt-junior Sarah Loesch had a bit of a learning curve to overcome when she first became a thrower for the Boilermakers.
It didn’t take long for the Columbus East graduate to get the hang of things before recording the eighth-best distance in school history during her first competing year. Loesch continued to outdo herself, and now holds Purdue’s third-farthest distance of all-time after launching the weight 21 meters, 37 centimeters on Feb. 3.
That distance also earned Loesch her first NCAA Indoor Championships appearance. The meet begins on Friday in College Station, Texas.
Throwing one of the top 16 distances in the nation earned Loesch a spot at the NCAA meet. She is seeded 13th.
“It’s been one of my season goals and one of my career goals to make it to nationals in the weight throw,” Loesch said. “I’m pretty excited to travel to College Station and compete.”
Loesch is embracing the chance of getting some experience competing against some of the best athletes in the county and said that the nerves of competing on such a big stage have yet to hit her. She anticipates that she will feel a good sense of nervousness once the feel of the meet sets in on Friday that will hopefully help her reach her goals.
Loesch is aiming for a podium finish by advancing to the finals and earning first-team All-American honors. She’ll need to throw her way into the top eight to accomplish that. The No. 8 seed is 53 centimeters ahead of her.
Purdue throwing coach Keith McBride said he believes Loesch has a good shot at not only receiving first-team All-American honors, but a chance at reaching her ultimate goal of beating the Boilermakers school record.
“I think she’s taken huge steps forward this year,” McBride said. “The consistency week-in-and-week-out has been way better than it has been in the past, and I think that’s why she’s gotten the big throw this year.”
Loesch will need to throw better than a 22.35 meters to beat the school record set by Dani Bunch in 2014. She will still have one more season to reach the top of the list if she doesn’t reach that mark this weekend.
Loesch also holds two top-10 distances for Purdue in her outdoor events. Her 60.49 meters in the hammer throw ranks her third all-time, and her 49.73 meters in discus puts her ninth on the list.
“I think every year, I’ve progressed a lot,” Loesch said of the weight throw. “I feel like I always wish I would have done a little more, but this year was kind of a milestone year making it to nationals. So I’m pretty proud of what I accomplished, especially coming from not having thrown it in high school and what my coach has done in helping me learn how to throw it.”
Name: Sarah Loesch
High school: Columbus East
Year: Redshirt junior
Career bests: Weight throw (21.37 meters, third all-time at Purdue); hammer throw (60.49 meters, third all-time); discus (49.73 meters, ninth all-time)