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OSU's Way looking for improvement

Mitchell native Caitlin Way competes in the hammer throw for Oklahoma State during the 2014 outdoor track and field season. (Photo courtesy of the OSU athletic department)

Mitchell native Caitlin Way is closing in on the end of her career with the Oklahoma State University track and field team, with a personal-best finish on her mind.

The senior will compete in the Big 12 Championships starting today in Lubbock, Texas, as she looks to improve on her fourth-place finish in the hammer throw last season at the event. That was her highest-career finish and she took sixth in the event in 2012.

"I like my chances to finish in the top three," Way said about her expectations for the conference meet. I had a really good year last year and it's been hard to follow that up. I have been hitting a really good average in the hammer, and I think I'll be peaking at the right time for the postseason."

Way left for Oklahoma State after her senior season at Mitchell High School, where she set numerous records. At the end of her Kernel career, Way held school records in the discus and shot put, while her personal best of 149 feet, 11 inches in the discus was the fourth-best throw in South Dakota high school history at the time. She was the Class AA state champion in 2009 in the discus.

When asked if she made the right decision when joining the Cowgirls, Way was certain.

"I'm very happy with my decision to come to Oklahoma State," Way said. "I always tell people if I could go back, I would make the same decision a million times over."

After getting to Stillwater, Okla., Way has left the shot put and the discus behind to focus solely on the hammer. It is a discipline she describes as far more technical and mastering the craft has taken a great deal of work.

"Every mistake you make is just going to be compounded throughout the throw," Way said of the event that requires three or four turns, leaving less room for error than the shot put or the discus.

Way said Big 12 teams offer substantial challenges in the throwing events and being able to focus her time and effort on one event has made a difference.

"You can't be average at one event and be successful in the Big 12," Way said.

She is ranked 34th in the NCAA in the hammer throw. In her most recent competition, Way placed fourth at the Michael Johnson Classic in Waco, Texas, where she posted a throw of 54.37 meters. Way's personal best in the event is 60.02 meters, which is third best in Oklahoma State history, while her season best is 58.15 meters.

Her effort at the 2013 Big 12 Championships earned her all-conference honors for the third time. She also was named to the all-Big 12 team for the 2013 and 2014 indoor seasons and the 2012 outdoor season.

In 2013, she missed going to the NCAA national meet by one meter after qualifying for the preliminary competition in the hammer throw.

"It's definitely sad to see the end of my career," Way said. "I feel like I have accomplished as much, if not more than I set out to do my freshman year."