Shorter Throws Center hosts meet featuring Olympic hopefuls
By Matt Green
ROME – Shorter University’s new throws center is barely two months old, but the facility is already making noise across the country.
Five facility records fell and one athlete’s performance qualified him for the IAAF World Junior Championships at the Shorter Throws Center Festival, hosted by Shorter Track and Field at the Shorter Throws Center on June 8.
Some of the country’s best field athletes gathered in Rome at the Shorter Throws Center, some improving their own Olympic Trials qualifying marks just two weeks ahead of the trials. The meet marked just the third event held at the facility, which was completed just in time for the Mid-South Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships six weeks ago.
“Big things are already here [for the Shorter Throws Center] and we will continue to grow this facility,” said Shorter throws coach Nik Kay, who directed the event. “We hope to change the face of throwing in the southeast.”
One of the new records set was quite impressive.
Andy Fryman from Mjolnir Throwers Club posted 73.23 meters (240 feet, 3 inches) in the hammer throw, moving him from eighth in the United States to sixth on the eve of the Olympic Trials. Fryman’s mark would have won the NAIA Outdoor hammer title by over 40 feet. His final mark came in Round 6 of the competition.
Two other competitors that will join Fryman at the US Olympic Trials, Garland Porter and Kevin Becker, topped out at 69.88 meters (229 feet, 3 inches) and 68.79 meters (225 feet, 8 inches), respectively. Porter is ranked seventh in the United States and Becker 13th.
Enrique Gaitan, a freshman from Auburn University, who entered last weekend’s event already in possession of the Guatemalan youth and junior records and Central American youth record in the hammer, accomplished a milestone at the Shorter Throws Center.
Gaitan threw 224 feet, 11 inches (68.55 meters) to qualify for the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona, Spain – the Olympics for the world’s best 19 and under field athletes.
In the women’s hammer throw, Kristin Smith and Shelby Ashe, representing Throw One Deep, both eclipsed 200 feet with Smith going 209 feet, 7 inches and Ashe going 201 feet, 10 inches. Smith and Ashe are ranked 13th and 20th in the United States, respectively, and are headed to the Olympic Trials.
In the shot put, both the men’s and women’s field records were raised substantially. Eric Wersky of Conquest threw 19.10 meters (62 feet, 8 inches) – a mark that crushed the previous facility record of 50 feet, 8 inches – and Torie Owers of Throw One Deep, who is also slated to compete at the IAAF World Junior Championships, improved the facility record from 39 feet, 5 inches to 49 feet, 3.75 inches.
The Shorter University Throws Center is a brand new, seven-acre facility located one mile away from Historic Barron Stadium near downtown Rome. Phase 1 developments brought the facility a triple arched shot put arena, one NCAA discus cage, one discus/hammer combination IAAF tall cage, and a 120x13 turf runway for javelin.
Phase 2 construction will include another NCAA discus cage, permanent rubber synthetic surface for a javelin runway, permanent restroom facilities and stands to enhance the spectator experience.
The Shorter University Throws Center will co-host track meets for Shorter University along with Barron Stadium as well as serve as the host to numerous throws festivals, camps, clinics and eventually the Scottish Highland Games competitions. The Shorter University Throws Center will be a national, regional and local resource for all levels of athletes and throwers.