Boise — Boise State thrower Alyssa Osai seems perplexed by the idea that she might be a little hard-headed.
"Maybe," she said, after explaining her recent surge by saying she finally started following her coach's instructions.
That coach, throws coach Keith Vance, doesn't hesitate.
"She's been a challenge to train," Vance said. "It's been fun, but it's been frustrating, because she is strong-willed."
Osai recently broke a 21-year-old school record in the discus and is a title contender in the hammer throw at the Mountain West Outdoor Track and Field Championships, which began Wednesday in Las Vegas with multi events. All other events are Friday and Saturday.
Osai, distance runner Emma Bates and a strong group of sprinters who broke a 19-year-old school record in the 4x100-meter relay give the Bronco women confidence they can contend for a high finish in the conference, despite a national ranking that would place them seventh.
"There are a lot of seniors on this team," said senior Taryn Campos, who runs the 200, 400, 4x100 and 4x400. "It would be great to go out with a pretty ring on our finger. And if not, to know we all did our best.
"I think we're going to surprise some people."
Osai could play a key role for the Broncos.
She enters the meet ranked second in the conference in the hammer. She has qualified for the NCAA first-round meet and has All-American potential, Vance said. It's also the event that could provide Osai with a post-college career.
She's 7 feet, 3 inches short of the school record.
"If I just suck it up and do what I'm supposed to do, I can probably get it," she said.
She can throw the discus much farther than her record heave of 159-3, too, Vance said. In fact, she has - but many of them landed out of bounds as she tackled technical issues.
"After doing it for a while, you start to get new feelings," she said. "Playing around with new ideas. Well, they're new to me - (Vance) preached them the whole time."
She ranks seventh in the Mountain West in the discus. The event isn't her focus, but she'd like to earn some team points.
"I hope (the record throw) wasn't a one-shot deal," she said, "because I'd really like to qualify for (NCAA) first round."
Osai says she has the "traditional thrower story" - her mom placed her in track, she was "the chubby kid in middle school" and coaches handed her the shot. She considered other sports like softball, but her mom pushed her to pursue throwing.
She hadn't thrown the hammer until she arrived at Boise State.
"When I got here, then I fell in love with (throwing)," she said. "You have to love it. Otherwise, you can't succeed."
She'll graduate next week with a health sciences degree. She plans to pursue a master's in exercise physiology - likely in Sweden. That's where she'll live and train with fiancé Pontus Thomee, a former Boise State thrower.
She might even compete for the Swedish national team. She also could throw for the U.S. or Tonga, Vance said.
"She's going to have a host of options," he said.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat