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Park's Ogunrinde makes a transition to thrower at the U of M

Once a Park sprinter, Temi Ogunrinde is completing her transition to being a thrower at the University of Minnesota. Becky Miller/Gopher Athletics1 / 2
Temi Ogunrinde has spent a lot of time practicing the throwing motion for the hammer throw to get where she is today. Becky Miller/Gopher Athletics2 / 2

Park High School graduate Temi Ogunrinde did not know much about the hammer throw before she started school at the University of Minnesota.

She first learned about the field event while on a visit as a prospective Gophers women's track and field athlete. Ogunrinde was primarily a sprinter at Park High School, and the hammer throw is not an event seen around high school track and field events in Minnesota.

"I remember on my recruiting visit him asking if I knew what a hammer throw was?" Ogunrinde recalled from a conversation with women's track and field director Matt Bingle. "And I didn't because it is not a high school event. He showed me a video of it, and said, 'You know, when you get here we might try you out on it.'"

Bingle saw Ogunrinde's athleticism as an up-and-coming runner while he was hosting a track and field camp years before she was a college student. It did not take long for the Gophers coach to realize he wanted her talent on his team.

"When we were allowed to talk to her, I started recruiting her, and I said, 'We're going to recruit you as an athlete. If you can sprint, you can sprint. If you can throw, that's the way we're going to go,'" Bingle recalled saying.

Still, Ogunrinde started training primarily as a sprinter when she became a member of the women's track and field team in fall of 2014, spending about once a week training with the throwers.

A few months into her college career, Ogunrinde listened as the coaches proposed a switch. They wanted her to become a thrower full time, with her primary event being the hammer throw.

Although she had always identified herself as being a sprinter, she agreed after some convincing.

"The first few months of learning it I was dizzy always because you just do turns on turns on turns," Ogunrinde said. "And the technique is really hard. Still to this day I don't have it down."

Now a redshirt sophomore at the University of Minnesota, Ogunrinde has become a competitive hammer throw athlete who is climbing the ranks in the Big Ten. Just last weekend in Tempe, Ariz., Ogunrinde finished fifth with a mark of 60.76 meters. It was a personal best throw for the Park graduate who has continued to climb the top-10 list of all-time hammer throw results in University of Minnesota program history. She previously was ranked eighth all-time with a throw of 59.67 meters.

Now that she has established herself in the Big Ten, Ogunrinde is driven to keep improving with the hopes to one day qualify for a NCAA regional and eventually the Division I championship.

"After seeing how far I'm going, it seems like these are attainable," Ogunrinde said. "It really motivates me to keep working hard and keep doing the stuff I can, all the little things to hopefully get to where I want to go."

The 2014 Park graduate is known at Minnesota for more than just her work as a thrower. As one of three volunteer coordinators for the Gophers, she helps find volunteer opportunities for members of the women's track and field program both on campus and around the community. As a result of her work, Ogunrinde was named Minnesota's recipient of the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award at the end of this year's indoor track and field season.

"She is like a daughter to me, and she is an unbelievable young person and a great teammate," Bingle said. "Everybody loves her, and she works hard. She is just a great young woman."

Ogunrinde started her time at the University of Minnesota with the desire to be a pre-med major, but she soon switched to become a student of the Carlson School of Management. She now is studying nonprofit and entrepreneurship management.

"I'm really into the corporate social responsibility, and making an impact in some way," Ogunrinde said. "I really want to incorporate that into my job."