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Temi Ogunrinde goes to nationals and beyond

Temi Ogunrinde offers a smile during hammer throw competition during the NCAA nationals in Eugene, Oregon. Becky Miller/Gopher Athletics1 / 2
Temi Ogunrinde goes into her hammer throw motion during competition in the NCAA nationals in Eugene, Oregon. Becky Miller/Gopher Athletics2 / 2

It is the nation's biggest stage, but Park graduate and University of Minnesota thrower Temi Ogunrinde didn't feel the pressure at the NCAA Women's Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championship June 7-10 in Eugene, Ore.

Sure, the University of Minnesota sophomore felt the pressure earlier in the season to qualify for nationals and finish high at the Big Ten championships. But once she got to nationals, throwing alongside her teammate Angie Guenther felt like any other weekend.

"It just made it feel like any other meet because I am used to that," Ogunrinde said about throwing alongside Guenther at nationals. "It made it feel a lot more joyful and a lot more fun, because in between throws we could just have fun and joke around with each other, and dance with each other."

The Park graduate Ogunrinde finished her breakthrough season in the hammer throw at nationals earlier this month. It was a season that included a Big Ten Conference championship in the hammer throw, a school record throw of 64.01 meters and a Big Ten Outstanding Sportsmanship Award.

"It was such a cool atmosphere," Ogunrinde said about the scene at nationals. "Hayward Field is just amazing. You have people who just really love track and know all the events and what is going on. They will cheer for you even if they don't know you."

Although Ogunrinde hoped to finish with her best throws of the season, she didn't quite reach her goal at nationals. Her personal record this season was a mark of 64.01 meters set at the NCAA West Prelim on May 25 in Austin, Texas. Ogunrinde's best trial at nationals was 60.75 meters.

"It was kind of disappointing to get there and not deliver how I wanted to," Ogunrinde said. "My throws were all consistent around 60 meters, which was kind of disappointing. But I was grateful for the opportunity."

Still, Ogunrinde reflected positively on her growth this season after steadily improving the distance on her throws and breaking the program's all-time hammer throw record. She credited her coaches and teammates for helping push her in practices and meets, and she also appreciates the support from those outside the track and field team.

"There are so many things," Ogunrinde said. "I have such a great support system here just with my community outside of sports. They have been really cool in just refocusing me and calming me down when I was nervous or encouraging me when things weren't going as well."

Ogunrinde has no plans of slowing down this summer. The entrepreneurial management major is starting an internship with the 2019 Minneapolis Final Four organizing committee this summer. She also hopes to keep throwing at the World University Games later this summer, potentially for Nigeria where she has dual citizenship because her parents are from there.

"We'll take it day-by-day," Ogunrinde said. "If it does happen, that would feel great. Like I said, competing at NCAAs was such a great experience to compete with some of the best athletes in the country. So it would be even more amazing competing against the best athletes my age."

Blaze Fugina

Blaze Fugina is the sports editor of the Woodbury and South Washington County Bulletin newspapers. Previously, Blaze worked as a sports editor for the Pierce County Herald and a sports reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.

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