BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA, April 29 — With a mighty barrier-busting discus throw at the 128th Cal–Stanford Big Meet, Mykolas Alekna raised his own Collegiate Record to 232-11 (71.00).
It was easily the standout performance as coach Robyne Johnson’s Cal men’s team rolled over Stanford 99–64 and the women made it a sweep with an 87–76 win.
The Lithuanian soph’s ace round 3 heave raised the CR by 7-5 (2.27m). Previously the World Champs silver medalist owned a 225-6 (68.73) best, set at the ’22 Pac-12 Champs. He eclipsed that mark — longest-ever by a 19-year-old, though not a World Junior (U20) record since Alekna turned 20 last September — surpassing significant barriers.
Needless to say, the figures 230-0 and 70 meters connote symbolic and physical gravitas.
“To be honest, I didn’t expect to throw it that far,” said Alekna, whose assessments tend toward calm and analytical. “It was a good meet, very good conditions, good energy. A lot of people came to support us so it was a very good meet. And yeah, I’m happy to throw that far.”
Just 17 men of all ages have thrown farther — and only 6 in the 2000s. The mark carried Alekna to within 11 inches (27cm) of world champion Kristjan Čeh’s PR. The Cal psychology major hit the first big throw of his series, 220-7 (67.25), on his second, intentionally fouled his fourth and reached 217-2 (66.21) in frame 5.
The only relevant record Alekna did not knock down was the Edwards Stadium best. That still belongs to the late Ben Plucknett, who reached 233-5 (71.14) before 10,000 spectators here at the Kinney Invitational of ’83.
The air Alekna threw into on a sunny afternoon was remarkably calm, not a given on the east shore of San Francisco Bay. Alekna’s was no “big wind” carnival trick.
“Conditions were very good, I would say,” Alekna remarked. “The wind wasn’t strong, but it was warm [temperatures hovered in the low-to-mid 60s, never as high as 20C], so I liked it. Yeah, it was good.”
Alekna added, “I think it was a very good technical throw. I was trying to do what I was working on. So coach [Mo Saatara] helped me to throw far. He gave me advice and technique and everything. So it was good team work.”
Saatara also coaches Bear senior Anna Purchase, the collegiate list leader, favorite to succeed Cal alum Camryn Rogers as NCAA hammer champ, and HT winner here.
“We’ve been working on a lot of technical stuff,” Saatara said of Alekna. “This is sort of like a working period. So we were working a lot. We came in this week and we just thought, ‘OK, we’ll just have a good competition and feel good.’ He said it felt really good so that was great.
“We were just working on better rhythmic throws and being able to be stable.”
With a long campaign anticipated through the DL Final in mid-September, Saatara said, “We sort of divide up the year as we go forward and we just kind of spread out the work throughout the year. We’ll have a period of time where we work a lot, then we’ll have a period of time where we kind of back off and compete. So we’re just sort of in the middle of our work period.
“Mainly we’re looking toward the summer. Obviously we’re taking the NCAA championship season coming up — that’s a big deal, obviously for us. And then, you know, the European campaign and then obviously the end of the season in Budapest. So we’re looking long term and beyond that too. Obviously 2024 is coming and ’25 and all this other stuff.”
But 71m? Did Saatara expect that in a dual meet?
“If you’re in a good place to be able to execute, he’s capable of doing some great things,” said the coach. “We just want to make sure that we are ready for the main competition because obviously there’s some great men throwing in the NCAA and then obviously the international level.”
The still air in Edwards Stadium was exactly what Alekna and Saatara prepare for.
“We don’t really look at the wind because once you go in the stadium, you know, 9 times out of 10 there’s no wind, there’s nothing,” Saatara said. “So we just throw. We’re not worried about the wind or anything like that. If, if you get it, it’s a bonus. If you don’t get it, it’s OK too. Because mainly in the main championship, whether it’s an NCAA Championship or World Championship or something like that, you can’t rely on conditions.”
Now that he has reached the 70-meter zip code where his consummately accomplished father Virgilijus left his longest mark at 242-5 (73.88) in ’00, Alekna feels it’s too early for the comparisons to start. His dad was 28 at the turn of the century, still a distant age in development terms.
“I would say yeah, definitely I’m getting stronger,” Alekna says. “But I’m still very weak compared to all the best guys. But I don’t focus on strength. I focus more on technique and speed and being explosive. So, being strong is not my main goal.”
This season, he says, his focus is clear: “On the World Championships. And NCAAs as well, cuz last year I got 2nd [to Virginia’s Claudio Romero, now at LSU] and at the Worlds was also 2nd.
“I want to win the gold medals in every meet. So hopefully I’ll do well.”