Julieann Dufresne can intimidate anyone with her tall physique, wild, dirty blonde hair and piercing blue eyes.
The shot putter and discus thrower for the Cal Poly track and field team has given her competition reason to fear her this season, and is focusing on sending the discus more than 175 feet and the shot beyond 50.
“It’s a big leap from what I’m throwing now but I should get there by the end of May,” says Dufresne, a forestry and natural resources junior.
At Fresno State on March 14, she won the discus throw at 47.85 and 49.45 meters, and finished second in the shot put at 14.65 and 15.1 meters.
Prior to that, on March 8, Dufresne had a strong performance at the UCLA Invitational at Drake Stadium in Los Angeles, winning the shot put with a mark of 48 feet, 1 ¬ inches, and the discus with a throw of 157 feet.
Both marks, not too far from her goals, met the NCAA West Regional qualifying standards.
Dufresne, a Santa Cruz native, was also a member of her high school’s basketball and water polo teams before committing to track and field at Cal Poly.
“I kind of miss being a multi-sport person,” she says. “It’s weird doing one sport.”
However, she has adapted well to the single-sport schedule and spends one to four hours a day lifting to keep herself strong for throwing.
Yet this wasn’t the type of practice Dufresne saw herself doing in high school, at which point in time she planned to play college basketball, before her high school throwing coach, Tony Ciarelli, encouraged her to pursue throwing.
Dufresne is glad she did, and loves being a part of Cal Poly’s team.
“It’s like having a little family at college and the coaches are kind of like parental figures,” she says.
Comforted by her relationship with her coaches, she finds traveling to meets tiresome but memorable nonetheless.
“It really takes a toll on your body and it was hard for me to adjust to it,” Dufresne says. “But it’s worth it because you get to see places and meet people.”
In her free time, Dufresne describes herself as an outdoors lover and a “beach bum” who likes to boogie board and take her dog on walks. She also likes to sleep in when she can, considers Saturday morning practices a “bummer” and has a sense of humor, especially about her sport.
“My little joke, when people ask me what I do in track, is I tell them I do the mile,” she says with a laugh.
Regardless of whether she plans to make a profession of her throwing ability, she would like to inspire younger athletes, especially women considering throwing for track.
“I’d like to be a role model for other athletes starting up,” Dufresne says. “I think there’s a lot of talent out there and they just don’t know it.”