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Originally published April 20, 2005 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 20, 2005 at 10:43 AM

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State colleges report: Switching sports doesn't throw UW's Conwell

Remember Will Conwell? To the casual Huskies fan, Conwell disappeared in the spring of 2003, after giving up a Washington football scholarship...

Remember Will Conwell?

To the casual Huskies fan, Conwell disappeared in the spring of 2003, after giving up a Washington football scholarship to focus on a career in track and field.

Two years later, Conwell has reinvented himself as one of the nation's top college throwers and is among the contenders for a Pac-10 discus title in May.

It didn't come easily.

Conwell was a local celebrity in his hometown of Kent, a star linebacker expected to follow the footsteps of his famous uncle, Huskies and NFL tight end Ernie Conwell.

Somewhere along this preordained path, however, something changed. Two years' worth of injuries and sparse playing time, plus the weight of expectations, leeched the fun from the game.

Pick of the week


Crew

Washington vs. California, Montlake Cut, 9 a.m. Saturday.

The scoop: Don't miss men's eight showdown between No. 3 Huskies and No. 2 Bears. Women's eight pits No. 11 UW vs. No. 3 Cal.

"There came a point where I realized that my motivation was no longer coming from within," Conwell said. "Had I kept playing, it would just have been to keep the scholarship check coming, and it wasn't fair to me or anyone else to do that."

Conwell viewed his 2003 track season as a fresh start. Within days of his decision, though, the sophomore broke both of his wrists in a weightlifting accident.

"I did feel at times that I was being tested, that the broken wrists were a penance I had to pay for quitting football," he said.

Conwell delivered pizzas through the spring and summer to help earn money for school. Everywhere he went, locals reminded him of the opportunity he had, in their words, "thrown away."

With two broken wrists, feeling he had disappointed family and friends, Conwell was at an all-time emotional low when he went in to meet first-year UW throws coach Bud Rasmussen in the fall of 2003.

"He said he thought I could be an elite-level thrower," Conwell recalled. "He put a lot of confidence back into me, and helped me to believe in myself again."

Two years later, Conwell's confidence is at an all-time high.

"If I defined myself by my football accomplishments, then I'd have been disappointed with how it's turned out," he said. "But I believe that who people are in life overshadows what they do. Success comes from within; as long as I believe in myself, I know that I cannot be defeated."

Other UW sports

Baseball: Sophomore right-hander Tim Lincecum (Liberty of Issaquah) was named Pac-10 pitcher of the week for the second time this season after throwing a one-hitter in the Huskies' 5-1 win over California on Friday. He struck out 11 and walked three in the first nine-inning complete game of his career.

Rowing: The UW crews begin a stretch of three straight home regattas Saturday when they host their oldest rival, California. The UW and Cal men have competed 94 times in a dual-racing format since their first meeting in 1903. The Huskies hold a 66-27-1 advantage. The UW women won 22 of the 28 dual races against Cal.

Men's tennis: Senior two-time All-American Alex Vlaski (Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro), No. 10 in the national rankings, will vie for the singles title as the No. 13 Huskies head to Ojai, Calif., for the Pac-10 singles and doubles championship, tomorrow through Sunday. Vlaski has twice been the singles runner-up.

Women's tennis: Senior two-time All-American Dea Sumantri (Jakarta, Indonesia), ranked 18th, leads No. 23 Washington with an overall singles record of 26-12 in the Pac-10 individual championships, tomorrow through Sunday in Ojai, Calif.

Seattle Pacific

Gymnastics: Debra Huss (Orangevale, Calif.) became only the second Falcons gymnast to win three national events titles in one year. Huss claimed the all-around crown and tied for first in the floor and bars at the USA Gymnastics Championships.

Rowing: The women's varsity four has earned an early invitation to the ECAC National Invitational Championships, May 7-8. SPU, which has won national titles the past two years, will defend its conference crown Saturday on Lake Stevens.

Track and field: Danielle Ayers-Stamper (Lacrosse-Washtucna) took over the NCAA lead in heptathlon scoring with a Great Northwest Athletic Conference-record 5,491 points.

Seattle University

Softball: SU (18-13, 9-5 GNAC) had three doubleheaders in the last two weeks postponed or canceled because of rain. The Redhawks will make up a doubleheader with Western Washington on Monday at Logan Field.

Track and field: Kelly Fullerton (Roseburg, Ore.), Faruk Punjani (Lake Washington) and Taylor Choyce (Cle Elum) all set school records at last weekend's Spike Arlt Invitational.

Washington St.

Tennis: Anastesia Opata (Lawrenceville, Ga.) signed a letter of intent. She was ranked as high as No. 2 in the state and No. 9 in the South region in junior tennis.

Track and field: WSU hosts the Cougar Invitational on Saturday. Participants from Idaho, Community Colleges of Spokane, Western Washington, Gonzaga, Lewis-Clark State, Whitman, Simon Fraser, Team Alberta and Montana also will compete.

Western Washington

Rowing: Western Washington will compete in 15 races at the Northwest Collegiate Rowing Conference Championships on Saturday on Lake Stevens. The women's varsity eight, ranked No. 1 in NCAA II, has not won at the NCRC regatta since 2001.

Softball: Western Washington outfielder Ashley Barber (Camas) has an eight-game hit streak, going 10 for 24 (.417), since moving from No. 9 hitter to leadoff.

Other colleges

Central Washington: Senior Ryan Rockhill (Sammamish) continues his ascent up the school's career baseball record book. Rockhill has 148 hits, eight shy of Marc Greeley's record of 156 (1985-88). Rockhill is also just 14 short of Greeley's career total-bases record.

Eastern Washington: Michael Roos (Mountain View of Vancouver), a 6-foot-6, 315-pound offensive tackle, is expected to become EWU's highest NFL draft choice April 23-24. Roos started 35 straight games at offensive tackle. No Eastern player has been drafted higher than the fifth round.

Gonzaga: Junior right-handed pitcher Nate Williams (Seattle Prep) is one of 18 students to receive the first Diamond 45/Ubiqui Tel Scholarships. The Tug McGraw Foundation awards the scholarships to college students who exemplify the former Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher's spirit, and show promise to become leaders. Williams is 2-0 with three saves and a 2.08 earned-run average this season.

Pacific Lutheran: The men's tennis team is ninth in the ITA NCAA Division III rankings released last week. The Lutes (21-2, 15-0) were Northwest Conference champions.

Saint Martin's: Nate Carlson (Pateros) raced the third-fastest 1,500 meters in GNAC history in winning his heat, and later finished 17th at the Mt. SAC relays in Walnut, Calif., Saturday. His time of 3 minutes, 51.69 seconds provisionally qualifies him to participate in the NCAA II championships next month.

Whitman: Surviving a 92-minute, sixth-inning rain delay, freshman right-hander Hunter Simpson (Pullman) tossed a complete-game 3-2 victory over Willamette on Sunday. Simpson, who scattered seven hits while striking out five, was named NWC pitcher of the week.

Whitworth: Senior outfielder Andraya Robertson (Grandview) has batted .472 (17 for 36) over the last 13 games. After opening the season in a 2-for-24 slump, she is now batting a team-high .313.

Sports information directors

contributed to this notebook.

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