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Gaza Odunaiya practices the hammer throw during track and field practice March 24. (FILE)

Track & Field: Senior throwers leaving a strong legacy for underclassmen

Two Ohio seniors have helped throw the team into contention for a conference title.

Ashlee Bilhimer and Donyelle Brown have led the Bobcats both in distance and leadership, throwing the field program forward as their senior seasons draw to a close.

Throws coach Nick Pero said the seniors have stood out based on their high level of performance this season.

“Both have done very well,” Pero said. “They’re just great athletes who have some good natural ability.”

Brown, a senior thrower from Reynoldsburg, has had one of the most successful throwing careers in Bobcat history, excelling in hammer, shot put and weight throws throughout her time in Athens.

She has earned numerous first place finishes, including two this season at the Ohio Cherry Blossom Invitational and the Ohio Open.  

Brown recently broke the previous record for longest throw after tossing 18.68 meters against Akron. She hopes to break her own record before the end of her collegiate career.

“In the end, I always love to see records broken,” Pero said. “The NCAA Tournament is a big goal that we are all shooting for, but the No. 1 goal is to bring in as many points at conference as possible.”

Bilhimer, a senior and javelin thrower from Gardner, Kansas, has a history of injuries. She missed the 2014 and 2015 indoor season after suffering a shoulder injury.

But Bilhimer was able to bounce back into the ring during the 2015 outdoor season. Her victories include the Ball State Cardinal Invitational, the Ohio Cherry Blossom Invitational and the All-Ohio Track and Field Championships.

She said she has adjusted her throwing method to avoid a second injury.

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"It is very easy to throw the javelin wrong, which is not good on your shoulder, so proper technique really helps,” Bilhimer said. “This also includes trying to use my whole body in my throw rather than just my arm."

Pero said Bilhimer's resilience in dealing with her injury has contributed to her success.

“She is a hard worker, and pushes through things.” he said. “I’m looking for some real solid improvement from her.”

Pero said his upperclassmen throwers have been instrumental in helping ease the underclassmen’s transition to make sure they continue the legacy of excellence.

“I think that for the underclassmen, dedication and hard work have been instilled for generations” he said. “I think Ashlee and Donyelle have led them in the right direction.”

Brown said Ohio has been instrumental in giving her the opportunity to succeed both inside and out of the ring.

"He and my teammates have challenged me to become quicker and more powerful in the circle,” Brown said. “Ohio University has given me the opportunity to compete at the DI collegiate level.”


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