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Kentucky shot-putter Szypka benefits from coaching change

University of Kentucky shot-putter Bradley Szypka
University of Kentucky shot-putter Bradley Szypka

Perhaps only Ziggy, the super computer of the old TV show Quantum Leap, could zag like Bradley Szypka.

As a University of Kentucky freshman shot-putter last year, Szypka had a season best of 54 feet, 6½ inches.

Then, longtime coach Don Weber resigned.

In came Edrick Floreal, along with a new staff.

Changes came for Szypka and all the Wildcats.

"They've got to make the adjustment," Floreal said. "They've got a new group (of coaches) telling you to 'do this' and to zig as opposed to zagging. A lot of people find issues with that. They don't want to adapt. They don't want to adjust. They have a whole bunch of excuses.

"Then you've got the good ones — you tell them to zig and not zag anymore and 'no problem, Coach.' They make the adjustment."

Szypka opened his sophomore season last month at Indiana, getting ziggy with it by improving his best by 5½ feet to 60-0½ . That ranks second in the young NCAA Division I season.

The 6-foot-3, 260-pounder credits his improvement to throws coach Andrew Ninow.

"Last year was a good year, but the training regimen was a bit not suited for me," Szypka said. "This year (Ninow) came in and really adjusted everything to people's personal needs and how we work. Right off the bat, within two or three weeks, you could see improvements."

As an example, he said, "one of the biggest things in throwing is how you basically finish with the ball, coming out over the toeboard. I've always had an issue where I've always done it a little bit different and I lose a lot of distance.

"I've had three coaches up to Ninow that could never fix it, and within two weeks he said, 'I have this drill and this drill,' and that's all we did for those two weeks. And the next thing you know, it got fixed and I added 3 feet to my throw. That's when I kind of knew right then that he was the perfect fit for me because he could actually fix something that wasn't able to be fixed by other people."

Szypka will make his home debut in the Kentucky Invitational, Friday and Saturday in Nutter Field House.

In addition to the shot put, Szypka competes in the 35-pound weight throw indoors and hammer throw outdoors.

He has been throwing since his sophomore year at Genoa Area High School in northwestern Ohio. Back then, he also was competing in the 100-meter dash.

"I was a lot smaller then," he said with a laugh.

His junior year, he grew nearly 3 inches in a few months. Bye-bye, sprints.

What to look for this weekend?

"The No. 1 expectation is to come out healthy and with some things we can work on to fix in the next few weeks," Floreal said. "So the results don't mean as much for this meet — as much as 'let's come out of there in a good positive mindset, get two good weeks of training in' (before UK's Rod McCravy Memorial meet). Yeah, we want to put some good numbers out there, but we'll have two weeks of sort of fixing issues before they go back to doing that."

Added Szypka: "Considering we just got off break, I really want to stay consistent. That's the goal for the rest of the year. Consistency brings big marks. Stay where I'm at, around 60 feet, and by SEC time let's hit a big one and make the nationals."