Athlete Profile: Vaiva Palunas

By Isobel Whitcomb '17
Environmental Columnist

Photos courtesy of Vaiva Palunas ‘17

Photos courtesy of Vaiva Palunas ‘17

THE SCRIPPS VOICE: What sport do you play?

VAIVA PALUNAS: I am on the track team, and I do throwing events, so I do shot put, discus, and the hammer throw.

TSV: Which of those is your favorite event?

VP: I like all of them… generally if I am doing better at one I tend to like that one. The events all cater to different body types, so generally with my height and long limbs, discus is the best. Right now I’m really liking hammer also, and am getting some really awesome breakthroughs with that.

TSV: When did you start throwing?

VP: I started throwing my senior year of high school. All through high school I did cross country and I did track, but I was mainly a pole vaulter. I was recruited for pole vaulting, but my senior year, my high school got a throwing coach and so I was like “oh, I should try these things!” I ended up being really good at them and went to state my first year throwing shot.

TSV: Why did you choose throwing over cross country?

VP: I have a lot more fast-twitch muscle than slow twitch muscle. I never was super good at cross country because I don’t have endurance muscles. I’d much rather go to the weight room and lift heavy than run three miles.

TSV: What do you like about throwing?

VP: It’s so beautiful. I was a dancer for a long time. I did ballet and jazz and modern but I also got super into lifting in high school. I wasn’t actively looking for this but I did find it in throwing-- a balance between technique and beautiful movement and power and strength. I think throwing is the perfect mesh of all that. It’s incredibly technical. You can change one part of your technique— like drop your hip a little bit more—and suddenly it feels amazing.

TSV: What’s different about throwing in college compared to high school?

VP: In high school I had a throws coach, but she wasn’t the best— whether it was experience or maybe our styles didn’t mesh, I don’t know. But I didn’t pick up a lot of technique in high school, I was just muscling it around. But at CMS I have a fantastic coach. She’s worked really hard to develop me as far as I’ve come. Also in high school I was basically the only thrower besides two football guys who came twice a week to dick around. And now I have a really awesome team.

TSV: What is the team culture?

VP: For throwers, we have a blast. We come to practice, we’re laughing, joking around. But we still get the work done. When we step in the ring, it’s on, but on the sidelines we joke around with each other. We’re all really good friends. We get meals [together] all the time, we hang out on the weekends.

TSV: What does a typical practice look like for you?

VP: We generally have one practice [per day]. It’s about two hours long, we come and we warm up, get all loosened up. Then we go through progressions of technique. So we start with stand throws and go through variations going through to the full technique. We practice throwing one [event] for an hour, and then transition to throwing the other for another hour. Then if it’s a lifting day we’ll go lift afterwards. Then we eat a lot of food. That’s the part I enjoy.

Palunas broke the 22-year old CMS women’s discus record with a mark of 43.42m (142-5) at the Rossi Relays hosted by CMS last year. She was also 10th in the nation going into Nationals for discus.

Palunas broke the 22-year old CMS women’s discus record with a mark of 43.42m (142-5) at the Rossi Relays hosted by CMS last year. She was also 10th in the nation going into Nationals for discus.

TSV: If you could do any other sport perfectly, what sport would you do?

VP: What I already do… (laughs) Probably horseback riding. I’ve been really obsessed with horses since I was a tiny person. I would go to this camp over the summers. One of my dreams is to raise a colt and be able to hop on bareback and gallop around.

TSV: Has riding horses influenced your decision to study veterinary medicine?

VP: Yes. Absolutely. I definitely want a career where I can be around horses.

TSV: When did you decide you wanted to go to vet school?

VP: I don’t even remember making that decision. It’s just always been my path. I’ve had periods of doubt because I’ve never given myself another option. But you know, my life philosophy is that you just have to make those decisions and go with them. You’ve got to make the most of what you have.