Shoulder soreness combined with unsatisfying results led Colorado's Delaney Hall to lose some of her passion for throwing the javelin a year ago.
"I didn't really feel like I could get a good throw out there and things weren't adding up," she said. "I lost a little bit and got down on myself last year, but I'm finding it again."
Feeling better physically and mentally, Hall is having a great spring for the CU track and field team and on Friday she won the javelin for the third meet in a row, with a mark of 141 feet, 5 ½ inches (43.11 meters) at the CU Invitational at Potts Field.
The sophomore from Lakeview, Ore., didn't have her best day on Friday, but was pleased with a throw of 43.11 considering it came in a strong cross wind.
In the NCAA West region, Hall currently ranks 36th with a personal best throw of 145-6 (44.36 meters) from April 2. That throw ranks eighth in the Pac-12.
"I'm super excited," Hall said about her season to this point. "I know there's a lot more to come and a lot more to work on, so that just makes me more excited for the bigger meets coming up."
Throwing the javelin is physically demanding for an athlete. Because it requires an athlete to run up to 30 meters, stop and then throw a spear that weighs at least 1.3 pounds, CU throwing coach Casey Malone called it a "fast, aggressive, almost violent movement."
Hall has been participating in the javelin since her sophomore year of high school. She got involved with the event to follow in the footsteps of her older sister, who held the record at their school and, "I just set out to break it."
A two-time Oregon state champion, Hall did break her sister's record and came to CU ranked 19th nationally in the 2015 class.
Despite her experience, she's had to learn how to balance power and technique to stay healthy in such a difficult event.
Malone said of Hall: "She's very gifted athletically and she's powerful. That was one of the things that was hard for her to use her freshman year. She got very strong and I think she was trying to use it. Now she's learning how to move more fluidly with that strength, which is a very important aspect."
Relying too much on strength is a negative in the javelin, because there's so much technique involved.
"You just have to find a balance," she said. "You don't want to be too strong and you want to be able to move. It's hard but you just have to do it to be a javelin thrower."
This spring, Hall has found that balance and said, "It's showing. I've felt a lot better than I did last year."
Mentally, Hall got through her disappointment last year by remembering why she got involved in the event in the first place.
"You have to find the fun or you'll lose your passion," she said. "I just figured out, 'Why did I start doing it?' I'm lucky to be here and to be a D-I athlete and compete for Colorado. It's great. I'm just thankful for that."
Rediscovering the passion has Hall eager to see how much better she can get during her career.
"I'm very excited," she said. "I know there's always been more and I'm just waiting to find it."
Hall isn't the only CU thrower that has Malone excited. In fact, the Buffs could be in for a nice run of success, as they are loaded with talented, young throwers. CU will not lose any of its nine throwers to graduation this year.
On the women's side, Hall and sophomore Elisa Grandemange are both having good seasons. Grandemange's top event is the hammer throw, but was also third in the javelin on Friday.
Malone is also excited about Mariah Walker, a junior who is redshirting this year and competing unattached. "She'll be the one of the top ones to watch in future years," Malone said.
On the men's side, Paden Gatlin has been the Buffs' top thrower in the discus and Matt Denton, from Boulder High School, the top thrower in the hammer. Meanwhile former high school teammates Austin Swanson and Aaron Haigler (who plays tackle for the Buffs' football team) have been reunited and throwing well.
"This year what we're looking to do is get as many people as possible to the conference championship and give them that experience," Malone said. "If we get a couple people scoring, and we get a couple people to the NCAA region round one, that's going to be pretty exciting."
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.