May 16, 2013
Also See: Savatovic Named Big 12 Freshman of the Year
By Mark Janssen
Sara Savatovic turns heads … for sure.
First, she’s of weight-thrower and homer-thrower size on the track, but it’s that look … that red-red-red hair look that separates Savatovic (sa-va-to-vic) from her teammates, and everyone else on the K-State campus.
Laughing, Savatovic said, “That happened in my senior year in high school. I’ve always been told that red is the color of power and love.”
Pausing, the K-State freshman added, “People are telling me it should be purple next year, and I’m thinking about that. Purple is my new favorite color. I like it here. I’m a K-State fan.”
Savatovic arrived at K-State in January from Crvenka, Serbia, where she was a record-setting thrower for Medicihe High School.
It’s where she set the Serbian national record in the hammer throw at 208-4, and was a member of the national team where she won the Balkan Junior Championship and placed third in the Balkan Championship.
Two weeks ago at the Big 12 Championships, Savatovic won the hammer throw at 210-4, which won the Big 12 title by nearly two feet, and bettered her own national mark for Serbia by two feet.
For that effort, Savatovic was named on Wednesday as the Most Outstanding Freshman Athlete of the Year by the Big 12 Conference. She’s only the second K-State freshman to ever be decorated with the award, joining Amy Mortimer in 2000.
"It means very much to me. I finally threw my PR and a national record for Serbia, and that is a big result for me," said Savatovic, whose throw ranks second in school history only to Loren Groves’ 241-5 mark set in 2008. "I expected to throw a PR soon because I have been training well and it came in the biggest event."
The gold-medal finish came as no surprise to Kansas State head coach Cliff Rovelto, who said, “I won’t said I expected it (210-4), but I’m not surprise at all. She was throwing 208 when she got here, which is really good, but the challenge for all mid-year kids is just maintaining what they did before they got here, and doing it on a consistent basis.
“We thought if she could throw 208 a couple more times, that would really be a very good year,” said Rovelto.
In eight meets this season, Savatovic has thrown over 195 feet four times, giving her four of the top nine marks in K-State history in her first season as a Wildcat.
“I feel good about what I’m doing,” said Savatovic, who will throw the weight during the indoor season. “My goal is to throw 213 feet by the end of the season. It’s just a matter of more confidence and being more technical sound. But I think I can do it.”
Her opportunities will come at the NCAA West Preliminaries in Austin, Texas, next weekend, followed by the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., on June 5-8.
Savatovic also was an outstanding javelin thrower and shot putter in high school, but as she says, “I chose to be the best in the hammer. At this level it’s hard to be really good at more than one thing.”
It was in the Junior Club Level competition back in Serbia that Kansas State saw Savatovic dominate the competition throwing the 3K hammer.
“Our question was whether she could be just as dominating in the 4K” said Rovelto. “Then we saw her at the World Juniors and her size and abilities were confirmed to what we had seen on tape.”
Honestly, assistant coach Steve Fritz did much of the recruiting through Facebook and e-mail. After she initially committed to Virginia Tech, it was K-State that entered the picture.
“The more I learned, the more I liked it,” said Savatovic. “I had never been in the USA, but it’s been good. I look forward to the next four years.”
Savatovic will return home this summer to compete in the Europe Under-23 National Championships, plus other smaller European meets.
Then, she’ll leave her country where soccer dominates to return to her “purple” school where football is king.
“I went to the spring game for my very first football game,” said Savatovic. “I couldn’t believe all the people (around 15,000). It was so exciting and people tell me I won’t believe regular games.”
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