Last Saturday was a monumental day for April Phillips. In the Sykes-Sabok Challenge Cup at Penn State, Phillips, the senior tri-captain of the Michigan women’s track and field team, broke two school records in the shot put and the weight throw and earned Big Ten Athlete of the Week honors.

But breaking these records was as much a relief for Phillips as it was an accomplishment. After an All-American hammer throw season in the spring of 2002, Phillips hurt her shoulder and spent most of the summer waiting for it to heal. As the season approached, Phillips was nervous about the effect the injury could have on her performance.

“I was really discouraged,” Phillips said about the injury. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to be ready for Big Ten’s,”

Going into this season, Phillips’s personal best in the shot put stood at 52′ 4″, but up until this weekend, Phillips had not thrown farther than 51′ 4 1/4″ this season. Surpassing her personal best and getting the school record began to weigh down on Phillips and have an effect on her performance.

“It was a mental thing,” Phillips said.

Now, having finally broken her own personal best in the shot put, and setting school records in both the shot put – and the weight throw – Phillips feels as though she is able to be herself again and focus on higher goals.

This past weekend Phillips made her presence felt on the national level, and she hopes to build on that success for the rest of the season. Phillips’s goals for the rest of the season include returning to the Big Ten Championships and to Nationals.

She acknowledges that she may not have the size and strength of some of the top throwers she will face at Big Tens. But what she lacks in brute strength she makes up for in form, technique and coordination – skills she attributes to one of her lifelong hobbies, dancing. Phillips said dancing “helps me with my technique” in the weight throw and shot put.

Phillips danced throughout her childhood while growing up in Fraser. When it came to high school track and field, Phillips was solely a high jumper until her junior year.

As a freshman and sophomore in high school, Phillips went to the state finals in the high jump. Influenced by her brother, who had competed in shot put in high school and his old coach, Phillips decided to give shot put a try during her junior year.

She ended up going to the state finals for both shot put and high jump her junior and senior year.

Phillips has enjoyed her time as a Wolverine.

“The team has been amazing all four years,” Philips said, adding that she loves the camaraderie she shares with her teammates.

As for next year, Phillips has no definite plans, but she does have an eye on the Olympics. She believes that her best shot to represent the United States will be in the hammer throw, which is an outdoor track event.

The hammer throw is lighter than the weight throw, and Phillips believes this works to her advantage because technique and skill are her specialties.

“The hammer throw is the most practical event for me in the Olympics because it does not require the strength that the shot put does. It’s based more on technique and coordination,” Phillips said.

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