Track plays host to elite throwers

May 25, 2008

The UA track and field team welcomed Olympians from the past, present and potentially future to Roy P. Drachman Stadium as they hosted the 2nd Annual Elite Throwers Classic on Saturday.

The meet - which used to be an entire track meet including running and other field events - became a thrower's meet last year after the event was just going to be scrapped from the schedule, according to UA assistant coach and head coach of the throwing team, Craig Carter.

Rather than eliminate the event, Carter had it made into a throwing event for athletes of all levels to come and show their stuff among other elite competition.

'It's a lot of fun and a great opportunity for the community and our athletes to see some of the higher end athletes in the country,' said UA head coach Fred Harvey. 'More importantly it's one of the meets where we get to highlight some of the event areas that don't normally get a chance to be highlighted in normal event competitions.'

This year's competition featured a slew of athletes with Olympic experience - even some with some medals to show for it - and many others looking to qualify for the first.

'We lost some good athletes because U.S. track and field paid for some people (who were slated to compete) to compete at BYU instead (this weekend),' Carter said. 'But it was a good showing and still a high level of competition out there.'

Highlighting the quality of athletes in attendance was Olympic medalist John Godina as he competed in the discus event. Godina still holds the Drachman Stadium facility record in the shot put from when he competed for UCLA over a decade ago and went on to win the discus this weekend with a best throw of 64.38 meters (211' 2').

Former UA athlete and current Olympian Esko Mikkola of Finland won the javelin throw with his mark of 82.83m (271' 9'). The mark was good for an Olympic 'A' qualifying standard and currently ranks as one the top ten throws in the world.

The women's javelin saw its own magic as Olympic hopeful Dana Pounds broke the facility record with her mark of 59.92m (196' 7'), a season's best throw for the American.

UA thrower Zack Lloyd competed in the shot put, a week removed from his Pac-10 title victory in the event in Tempe. Lloyd's mark from that meet of 21.03m (69' 0') is currently tops in the nation collegially and top-five nationally for all athletes in the current outdoor season.

While Lloyd did not quite match the success from that week, he was able to take fourth in the event with a mark of 19.58m (64' 3'). This also comes despite a rigorous week of training in which Lloyd lifted a personal best squat of 725 pounds and did so in apparent easy fashion according to the coaches who witnessed the event.

The rest of the UA team will return to action next weekend at the NCAA West Regional Championships in Northridge, Calif. where they will attempt to earn qualifications for the NCAA Championships next month in Des Moines, Iowa.

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