NCAA Men’s Discus — Romero By A Mere Inch

Discus margins don’t get much tighter than Claudio Romero’s 2-centimeter gap over Mykolas Alekna. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

THAT THE COMPETITION would produce the Nos. 2 and 3 longest throws in NCAA Champs history was not beyond expectation, nor was it a shock that a thrower with a world-level age-group gold on his résumé won the day. The surprise was the winner.

On his second throw Virginia’s Claudio Romero whirled his disc into a steady long flight through the gray sky. It landed on the right side of the sector at 217-1 (66.17) and knocked wunderkind-of-the-spring Mykolas Alekna’s 205-2 (62.54) opener back to 2nd in the standings.

Only Nevada’s Kamy Keshmiri, with a 218-5 (66.58) heave back in ’91, had ever thrown farther at an NCAA.

Cal’s Alekna — who had 8 throws longer than Romero’s in the preceding 10 weeks topped by his Collegiate Record 225-6 (68.73) in this circle at Pac-12s — looked for an answer. Throwing next in the order, his 210-10 (64.27) second effort wasn’t the answer he hoped to give.

In round 3 Chilean Romero reached 207-2 (63.15), 7-plus feet farther than the 195-8 (59.64) third-rounder from Arizona Stater Ralford Mullings. A frosh, same as Alekna, and runner-up to the Lithuanian at last year’s World Junior Champs, Arizona Stater Mullings established himself as best of the rest with that throw.

In frame 4 Mullings hit 204-11 (62.46), which no one but Romero and Alekna would exceed on the day. His defending champ teammate Turner Washington, injured, would finish 10th.

Alekna went in for the brass ring again. Per routine in the circle, he tossed his discus above his head and caught it with his left, shifted the platter to his right-hand cannon, took up his stance and launched it.

The implement wobbled a tad in flight and landed middle-rightish on the field. It was well past 60m and long. Just not long enough at 217-0 (66.15) — the third farthest ever at an NCAA but an inch (2cm) short of Romero.

Neither Romero nor Alekna threw longer in the finals.

After landing his winner, Romero had thrown up his arms to celebrate, though not with excessive jubilation for he knew who he was up against.

“First throw is always safe,” said Romero, who placed 3rd last year. “Second throw, the feelings started coming and the biggest competition of the year, it’s huge for me. So, after I did that, I just relaxed, and I knew that I could risk it all to get that big one.”

Romero, winner of World Youth gold for Chile in ’17, has his U.S. vernacular down. “I mean it’s rad,” he said. “I think it’s like the first NCAA champion Chile ever has had so that’s pretty nice. I’m excited, World Championships in 8 weeks, coming back, coming big, let’s go baby.”


MEN’S DISCUS RESULTS

(June 10)

1. **Claudio Romero’ (Va-Chl) 217-1 (66.17) (2, 2 NCAA)

(197-4, 217-1, 207-2, 208-10, 215-0 [x, 6 NCAA], f) (60.14, 66.17, 63.15, 63.65, 65.55, f);

2. ***Mykolas Alekna’ (Cal-Lit) 217-0 (66.15) (3, 3 NCAA)

(205-2, 210-10, 217-0, f, 204-7, 214-7 [x, 7 NCAA]) (62.54, 64.27, 66.15, f, 62.36, 65.42);

3. ***Ralford Mullings’ (AzSt-Jam) 204-11 (62.46)

(f, 181-9, 195-8, 204-11, f, f) (f, 55.40, 59.64, 62.46, f, f);

4. *Iffy Joyner (Cal) 199-3 (60.75)

(f, 199-3, 191-4, f, 188-8, 189-6) (f, 60.75, 58.32, f, 57.52, 57.76);

5. *Kaleb Siekmeier (Mn) 196-10 (59.99) PR

(196-10, f, 192-1, f, 188-5, f) (59.99, f, 58.56, f, 57.44, f);

6. *Jeffrey Williams (Mia) 196-5 (59.86) PR

(191-8, f, 180-2, 191-6, f, 196-5) (58.42, f, 54.92, 58.38, f, 59.86);

7. Elijah Mason (Wa) 195-6 (59.60)

(189-11, 195-6, 192-8, 186-3, f, f) (57.90, 59.60, 58.74, 56.76, f, f);

8. **Jordan Johnson (Ia) 195-3 (59.52) PR

(179-11, f, 193-4, 186-4, 190-4, 195-3) (54.84, f, 58.92, 56.81, 58.03, 59.52);

9. *Roje Stona’ (Clem-Jam) 193-1 (58.85); 10. *Turner Washington (AzSt) 191-4 (58.33); 11. *Kevin Nedrick’ (Lib-Jam) 191-2 (58.28); 12. **Tanner Watson (OhSt) 188-9 (57.53); 13. **Samuel Welsh (Harv) 187-10 (57.27); 14. Tom Yezek (NnIa) 186-5 (56.82); 15. ***Jacob Lemmon (Va) 186-3 (56.77); 16. Zorawar Otal (Prin) 183-5 (55.92); 17. **Sean Stavinoha (Tx) 182-10 (55.73); 18. Jamir Gibson (Army) 180-11 (55.14); 19. *Adar Sheere’ (Louis-Isr) 180-9 (55.11); 20. **Kevin Sakson’ (IaSt-Est) 179-5 (54.68); 21. **Jackson Morris (CoSt) 174-3 (53.12); 22. **Djimon Gumbs’ (NWnLa-BVI) 173-11 (53.00); 23. **Nathan Reid (Wy) 163-5 (49.80);… 3f—***Matthew Appel (Yale).

(best-ever mark-for-NCAA-place: 2)

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