Joyce is Healthy, Happy in 2002

April 4, 2002

BERKELEY - Jennifer Joyce is well on her way to a memorable senior track and field season.

Joyce won the hammer throw in the first three meets she competed in this year with NCAA automatic qualifying marks. At the Stanford Invitational March 29-30, her undefeated string came to an end, but she still finished second with her fourth-straight NCAA automatic mark. Her best throw of the season - 204 fee, 7 inches - came in the first week of the season at the Trojan Invitational.

At the Cal Invitational March 22-23, she propelled the Bears to the women's team title by winning the hammer (204 feet, 1 inch) on the opening day under wet conditions. The Vancouver, British Columbia, product also placed second in the discus with a PR and NCAA provisional qualifying mark of 164-7.

This was not a bad start to the outdoor track and field season. But Joyce's goals for 2002 are much bigger. She wants to throw at least 220 feet in the hammer and 180 feet in the discus and add two major hammer titles to her collection.

'I want to win the hammer at Pac-10s,' said Joyce, who has two second-place and one third-place finish in the hammer at the conference meet. 'I want it bad. NCAAs is going to be very competitive this year. It's definitely one of my goals. If I can compete well, stay healthy and have a good meet, I think I can win and get close to the NCAA record, which is around 220.'

The two-year captain has held the Cal record in the hammer almost from the moment she stepped on the Berkeley campus. The current record of 206-3 came in Joyce's second-place finish at the 2000 Pac-10 championships. She also has competed at the NCAA championships in each of her first three years, earning All-America honors as a sophomore for her fourth-place performance.

As a junior, Joyce didn't progress as well as she would have liked due to several nagging injuries. She is facing the 2002 season healthy and with renewed confidence.

'I'm really happy, especially after last year,' said Joyce. 'It's hard because I want to throw so much further right now. We're still lifting hard, and it hasn't all come together yet. I'm throwing remarkably well for where I am in the season. I'm really pumped because I know there are going to be some big throws down the line.'

Joyce began her track and field career as a sprinter, hurdler and high jumper for Kajaks Track and Field Club in Vancouver at age 12. After a growth spurt about a year later, she began to look more like a thrower and less like a high jumper and decided to give the shot put and discus a try. The hammer began to become popular for women when Joyce was around 14, and she developed an immediate attachment to the event.

'There wasn't a history to the hammer,' said Joyce. 'Every meet I went to I set a meet record. It was easy to be good at that point because there wasn't a standard of good people throw this far. It was kind of unknown. Whatever we did was good. I clicked with it a little bit more. I still like discus and have my moments where I'd rather throw discus on certain days.'

While some world-class hammer throwers can rely on their height or bruit strength, Joyce depends on being a master technician.

'The one thing that distinguished me was my technical ability,' said the 5-10 Joyce. 'The biggest advantage I have working for me is that I'm a good athlete, and I can get the technique down. But if I was 6-2 and a great athlete, it would be that much better. I've known from the beginning that I can't rely on my size or strength to get me to a world class level. I've concentrated on my technique.'

Joyce has a long way to go to reach her goal of competing for Canada at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece, but she is definitely an up-and-comer on the world scene. Last summer, she competed on the Canadian national team, taking fourth in the hammer at the Francophone Games, second at Canadian Nationals and first at the Canada Games and the B.C. Championships.

She credits much of her success prior to coming to Cal to Canadian teammate Caroline Wittrin, who defeated her at the 2001 Canadian Nationals, and her former Kajaks coach, Mike Cairns. Joyce is thankful for the role Cal throws coach, Randy Ziraldo, has played in her development.

'Randy has been an awesome influence for me,' said Joyce. 'I think if I had chosen to go to another school, I would have done fine just because I had the background and the motivation to be able to push myself. At the same time, Randy has taken me to a whole new level I may not have been able to get to if I was somewhere else.'

The Bears couldn't be happier that Joyce is in Berkeley.

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