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Aching To Win Southpaw Shot-Putter Tries To Win A National Championship For Nic

Thu., May 16, 1996

The muscles - calf, quadriceps and biceps - on the right side of Mitch Armuth’s body are noticeably bigger than those on the left.

As a left-handed shot putter at North Idaho College, this is not an ideal physical state.

Except for two things.

“All my coordination is on the left side of my body,” said Armuth, adding that, while his right side is bigger, both sides are of equal strength.

Armuth explained the differences essentially as the result of chronic shin splits that plague his left leg more than his right.

Though he sometimes has to gulp Advil to ease the constant ache, Armuth still has emerged as one of top junior-college shot putters in the nation.

He is seeded fourth entering the national meet in Odessa, Texas. The prelims are Friday, with finals set for Saturday. He’s trying to add the outdoor title to the national indoor crown he won in Carbondale, Ill., a few months ago.

Armuth was an all-state football player in Elko, Nev., but he was forced to give up the sport because his legs couldn’t handle the required running.

Shot-putting isn’t exactly a breeze, but he’s able to properly condition his body.

“It really doesn’t bother me unless I’m doing sprints, running, plyometrics,” he said. “I’m usually OK with the every-day stuff.”

NIC throws coach Bart Templeman said, “There’s no doubt that it does affect him, but people don’t realize he can really run and how quick he is.”

That’s vital, Templeman explained, because the 6-foot-2, 240-pound Armuth often competes against taller, weightier opponents.

“In high school, I could pretty much muscle the 12-pound ball,” said Armuth, who has signed with Boise State. “You can’t quite muscle the (college) 16-pound ball.”

Self-taught in high school, Armuth developed into a 58-foot thrower and a state champion.

“I would just watch film and say, ‘Hey, I’ll try that, that looks good,”’ he said.

Templeman and NIC assistant Bud Rasmussen have made technique a priority.

“I had a lot of bad habits, but luckily Bart and Bud are excellent coaches,” Armuth said. “Last year, they gave me some form, and this year I worked on it.”

Track isn’t often referred to as a sport of inches, but it was for Armuth as a freshman. He missed qualifying for nationals by one-half inch. He rebounded to win indoor nationals by tossing 53-3.

His best throw during this foul-weather spring was 51-0, which won the Region 18 title in Rexburg, Idaho, two weeks ago. He was buoyed by a rooting section of relatives who made the 9-hour drive from Nevada - among them his 95-year-old great grandmother, Lorinda Wines.

“My family’s very close,” Armuth said. “Sometimes I can hear her (Wines) saying, ‘C’mon Mitchell.’ She’s a very energetic lady.”

Armuth’s energy was focused on final exams earlier this week. He did well, he says, and now he hopes to pass one more test.

He hopes the expected 90-degree Texas heat will coax a career chuck. He’ll probably need it. He is seeded behind three foreign athletes. and it’ll likely take a 55- or 56-foot effort to win.

“It’s very possible,” he said. “I’ve been throwing well the last couple weeks.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo

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