Hazlewood, T&F Set for Split Weekend
Feb. 8, 2018

Iowa State Schedule / Iowa State Start List / Tyson Schedule / Tyson Start List

The Boilermakers are set for their first split weekend of the indoor season. The distance group and throwers are headed to the Iowa State Classic, while the sprinters and jumpers will compete at the Tyson Invitational in Arkansas. Both meets are two days and begin Friday.

Twenty-two Boilermakers will make the trip to Tyson, while seventeen Boilermakers are headed to Iowa State. Among the headliners is redshirt junior thrower Micaela Hazlewood, who ranks in the top-40 nationally in the shot put this season. Hazlewood is a three-time All-American outdoors in the discus, with a pair of second teams and one honorable mention. Despite her success in the circle, throwing was not the original plan.

Hazlewood, from Linton, Indiana, had dreams of being a great long jumper when she began competing in track & field in sixth grade. Just prior to her first season, though, she was diagnosed with a rare, severe case of pneumonia that caused the fluid in her lungs to form solid "honeycombs." The painful, potentially life-threatening illness sent her straight to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.

Doctors put her through extensive testing and treatment to diagnose the illness and find a way to clear her airways. The treatment included a lengthy surgery and five chest tubes to remove the fluid and "honeycombs" from her lungs, all while she was forbidden to eat anything. The first tube went in the moment she got to the hospital. Then it was time for surgery, which consisted of cutting four holes in her chest - two for cameras and two to access the lungs to scrape off and remove the solid "honeycomb." Then, the final four tubes went in to remove any more fluid and prevent it from happening again. It took three weeks in the hospital, including two in the intensive care unit, before doctors were confident the treatment had done enough to allow Hazlewood to go home.

The extended hospital stay and damage to her lungs didn't bode well for her track career, which was set to begin two weeks later. Regardless, Hazlewood was determined to compete. She went to her first practice still thinking she could be a long jumper. She took the runway for the first time and immediately knew it wasn't going to happen. Hazlewood couldn't breathe well enough to even make it the 100-or-so feet to the pit, let alone with any speed. She was discouraged and thought her track & field career was over before it ever started.

That's when her best friend, Natalie Swihart, stepped in. She told Hazlewood to try throwing since it doesn't require the same strain on the lungs. Hazlewood reluctantly agreed, thinking it would be a temporary fix.

It wasn't.

Hazlewood never left the throwing circles after that day. She was an instant success in the shot put indoors, before developing a love for the discus outside. Her coaches saw the potential, too. They taught her everything they could through middle school and into high school, before deciding she needed more extensive coaching. The decision was made to send Hazlewood to work with club coaches with the Indiana Track Club an hour away to help her maximize her potential.

The decision paid off. Hazlewood was a state qualifier all four years in the discus and three in the shot put. She finished as high as third in Indiana in the discus and was a top-25 throwing recruit nationally.

That brought the college scholarship offers, more than a dozen in all, from prestigious programs around the country. But when throws coach Keith McBride and head coach Lonnie Greene came around, the decision was easy. Purdue's throwing tradition is second to none, she loved the staff, and as she has done her entire life, Hazlewood embraced the challenge of building the Boilermakers into a power.

Through her first three years, she's done just that. On top of her All-America honors, Hazlewood scored in two events outdoors last year to help the women win their first Big Ten title since 1999.

Now, she's looking for more.

The third-best shot putter in school history has an opportunity to climb the national lists this weekend. Saturday, she is scheduled to face a field that includes four of the top 40 shot putters in the country and six of the top 13 in the Big Ten this season. Regardless of what happens, it's all because of a life-threatening illness nearly a decade ago that Hazlewood now refers to as "a blessing in disguise."




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