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Go Utes!

  Tapio Kuusela
Tapio Kuusela

Player Profile
Assistant Coach


Howerton-Davis Named Athlete of the Week By Pac-12 Conference

Pac-12 names Destanae Howerton-Davis thrower of the week.


Aoife Hickey Finishes Fifth in the Hammer Throw

Hickey posts fourth-best mark in school history.


Utah Throwers Get Outdoor Season Underway at Aztec Invitational

Aoife Hickey captures second at Aztec Invitational.


Utah Throwers Get First Day of Wildcat Invitational Underway

Anneli Stahl breaks school record in the weight throw.


Utah Throwers Control the Field at Mountain States Games

Utes capture three titles at Bronco Classic.

E-mail Assistant Coach Tapio Kuusela

Tapio Kuusela enters his 13th season as the throws coach for the Utah track and field program.

Under Kuusela's direction, the 2013 throwers experienced a great deal of success. During the indoor season, senior Anneli Stahl broke the school record in the weight throw twice with a top-mark of 62-0.50 feet. The outdoor season saw even more success with junior Destanae Howerton-Davis setting school records in the shot put with a top mark of 49-4.25 feet and the discus with a throw of 169-2.25. Howerton-Davis broke five school records overall beating her marks three times. Sophomore Aoife Hickey posted the third best hammer throw mark in school history of 201-11 feet, which also qualified her for the European Championships.

Tapio led Hickey, Howerton-Davis and Stahl to regional qualifying marks. The season also marked the first time ever that two weight throwers, Cynthia Sanchez and Stahl, recorded marks over 60 feet in the same season for Utah.

The 2012 throws group broke two school records. Stahl broke a 10-year-old school record in the weight throw, posting a mark of 61-2.75 feet at the Wildcat Open. At the MPSF Championships, Stahl and junior Nikkie Rudder both scored team points and qualified for the final rounds in the their events.

The outdoor season featured three Utah throwers scoring points at the Pac-12 Championships. Rudder and Candus Aiello finished seventh and eighth in the shot put, while Howerton-Davis earned eighth in the discus. Kuusela also oversaw the development of freshman Kaitlin Urmston in the javelin. Urmston broke the school record in her first year at the UVU Open with a throw of 150-1.50 feet. Both Urmston and Davis were NCAA Regional qualifiers.

During the 2011 season, Kuusela coached Stahl to the NCAA Western Regional Championships and an outdoor all-Mountain West Conference performance in the hammer throw. He also saw great success during the indoor season with three of his athletes competing in the final round of the shot put, finishing in fourth, seventh, and eighth at the MWC Indoor Championships.

In 2010, he guided Sarah Grimm in the hammer throw to a second place finish at the MWC Outdoor Championships and third in the conference at the weight throw. Under Kuusela's direction, Grimm set a new school record in the hammer throw with 207-1.75 at the Robison Invitational. With that mark she was ranked second in the West Region and fourth in the nation at the time. He also coached Rudder to a fifth-place finish in the shot put at the MWC Outdoors Championships. Rudder's mark of 47-7 feet is third-best in school history. Under his guidance Grimm, Rudder, and Stahl qualified for the West Region Championship meet.

In 2009, Kuusela coached Grimm to a title in the hammer throw at the MWC Outdoor Championships. Grimm had a 197-7 effort to take the event, winning by a distance of over three feet ahead teammate Josefin Berg. Both throwers qualified for the NCAA West Regional Championships. Grimm went on to qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Nationals after hitting a mark of 183-0. At nationals, Grimm finished 13th overall after a 187-8 distance and missing All-America accolades by four inches.

At the 2009 MWC Indoor Championships, Berg and Grimm placed second and fourth, respectively, in the weight throw.

In 2008, he oversaw Berg at the MWC Championship where she had a third-place finish in the hammer with a toss of 182-3. Berg also went on to qualify for the regional and national meets in the hammer. Kuusela also coached Chasity Toilolo to a sixth-place finish in both the shot put (45-6.5) and the discus (145-7) at the MWC Outdoor Championships.

In 2006, he mentored AJ Roby and Vanessa Mortensen as they both set school records in the discus and hammer, respectively. Mortensen set the school and Danish national record with a 205-0 toss, the winning throw at the MWC Championships. Both Roby (shot, discus) and Mortensen (hammer) qualified for the NCAA West Region Championships. Mortensen eventually qualified for the NCAA Championships, just missing All-America accolades by placing 10th overall. Mortensen also represented her native country of Denmark in the European Championships in August, 2006.

During the 2005 season, he served as the interim head coach when the team finished a then-school-best fourth place at the MWC Indoor Championships, and eighth at the MWC Outdoor Championship meet. He coached three regional qualifiers (Mortensen, Roby and Candice Workman-Ekberg) to the 2005 NCAA Western Regional Championships and one (Mortensen) to the NCAA Outdoor Championships.

In his first nine seasons, Kuusela produced six national and 11 regional qualifiers, along with three MWC Champions. His throwers have set 16 school records under his direction.

While coaching at his alma mater, Brigham Young, Kuusela guided several athletes to All-America honors. Amy Palmer notched an eighth-place finish in the hammer throw at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. Palmer was inducted into the Utah Sports Hall of Fame as its first-ever female track athlete in 2005.

The Oripaa, Finland native is involved with the Utah Olympic Weightlifting Development Program. In 1999, he served as the team leader and coach of the women's national throwing team that competed in several meets in Australia.

In 1980, Kuusela won the Collegiate Powerlifting Championships and in 1982, he became the first man in Utah to total over 2,000 pounds. He won four Finnish and Nordic Championships titles in weightlifting and was ranked 10th in the world in 1986. His best single performance was a snatch of 385 pounds.

While attending BYU, Kuusela was a four-time NCAA qualifier and a 1978 All-American in the hammer throw. During Kuusela's four years of competing for BYU, he never had a throw that was not above the NCAA qualifying mark. Kuusela's best marks were a throw of 61-2.25 feet in the shot put and 218-9 feet in the hammer throw.

Kuusela graduated from BYU in 1982 with a degree in economics. He is married to the former Heather Wood and has two children, Timo and Toni.

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