Pressure? What pressure?
"Just another track meet, that's the way I look at it," Rashaud Scott said.
The University of Kentucky senior will step into the discus ring Thursday at Fayetteville, Ark., as the defending champion and this season's top-ranked entrant in the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
The top 12 from Thursday's qualifying round will advance to Saturday's finals.
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Scott fouled all three attempts in Wednesday's shot-put qualifying. But discus is his main event, and he says big meets bring out his best. His results confirm as much.
"His best performances last year came at the regional championship, the national championship and the Olympic Trials," said Doug Reynolds, UK's throws coach. "He threw well to win the (Southeastern) conference this year. He won the regional this year."
Scott threw a PR (personal-record) 199 feet, 10 inches to win last year's Mideast Regional; 198-8 at the NCAA; and a PR 203-4 to place fifth at the U.S. Olympic Trials. The latter made him UK's third 200-foot thrower, joining teammate Chase Madison and two-time Olympian Mike Buncic.
Buncic, now a teacher and coach at a Santa Clara, Calif., high school, phoned Scott over the weekend to offer congratulations for a school- and meet-record 216-2 throw at the NCAA regional.
"I was happy for him," said Buncic, who threw 214-5 as a senior at the 1985 Mt. SAC Relays. "Every athlete, in some corner, you probably want to hold on to your record. But, my God, I've had it for 24 years. I think I've had it long enough."
Scott, now a 6-foot-5, "290-to-295" pounder, wasn't born until more than a year after Buncic's school-record throw. (Buncic threw 217-11 in the summer of 1985, a collegiate record because it was achieved in the same season as his final year of eligibility. However, 214-5 was his best effort in a UK uniform.)
Madison has battled a painful foot injury since 2006, when he underwent surgery his sophomore year at Iowa State. He transferred to UK in 2007, redshirting because he needed corrective surgery.
The foot still is painful — a plate and screw can be seen protruding from his bare foot. If he has a good day managing the pain, though, he's capable of challenging Scott. He set his PR, 206-2, last season.
"Today it was actually pretty functional when I was practicing," Madison said Saturday, "so I'm pretty confident that it's going to be the same on Thursday and Saturday."
The combination of Scott and Madison is a big reason why Kentucky might improve its best-ever NCAA Outdoor finish in the team standings — ninth in 2008.
At the regional meet, Madison placed third at 195-2. He talked of a possible 1-2 UK discus finish Saturday. Scott doesn't disagree.
"I've given it some thought. Me and him are among the top throwers in the country and you never know what's going to happen," Scott said. "Maybe both of us will show up and we'll just go head-to-head for it."
Although both seniors started at other colleges, are of similar size and similar ability, they have completely different demeanors.
"Chase is much more intense ... a much more external personality," Reynolds said. "He has a very different persona at practice and at (weight) training sessions than Rashaud does.
"Rashaud's much more quiet, more internal and doesn't show as much emotion. ... Rashaud's a bit bigger in build, but Chase is actually stronger in some areas in the weight room."
Scott, 22, migrated in 2006 from Truman High in Bronx, N.Y., to Mesa Community College in Arizona. He earned five junior-college All-America honors over two seasons.
Madison, 24, moved from Newton High in Iowa to Iowa State, with an All-America discus finish (ninth place) as a sophomore. He transferred when his coach was fired.
Reynolds is the glue that bonds the big guys.
After placing fourth last year in his fourth U.S. Olympic Trials, Reynolds retired from competition.
He said Scott and Madison can have long careers, too.
"To have two guys graduating the same class that are two of the top three in school history and the only guy separating them is a former collegiate record-holder and two-time Olympian, that's good company," he said. "It's been exciting to work with them. I'm hoping that we can finish this thing on a high note.
"Both of them have the ability to do great things professionally in the future. It's really just a steppingstone into the rest of their careers."