Olympic Trials Men’s Discus — Mason Finley Finally Found Technique

It wasn’t until round 4 that defending OT champ Mason Finley climbed back into the leader’s spot. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

DEFENDING HIS TITLE, only the third discus thrower after Mac Wilkins and Anthony Washington ever to do so at an Olympic Trials, was no walk in the park for Mason Finley.

“Coming in, my warmups weren’t going great, my first three throws weren’t going great,” the 30-year-old Finley assessed after earning his first U.S. title since ’17. “And then, I don’t know, I just stopped trying to tweak things and said, ‘You just gotta make the team, you gotta go.’ — and so, relaxed, settled into my technique which I kind of feel was good.

“It was kind of late in the game but I kinda turned a bad day into an OK day.”

Having opened his season promisingly with a 217-10 (66.40) throw back in May, in qualifying here — after fouling his first two efforts — Finley managed just 195-8 (59.64), tenth-longest of the round. The most notable casualty was NCAA champ Turner Washington.

The thermometer read 90 (32C) as Brian Williams initiated the final proceedings, and with little to no wind blowing, the throwers on the infield grass no doubt felt toastier than that. Hot marks were not particularly a feature of the afternoon, however.

Besides defending USATF titlist Sam Mattis (205-1/62.51) and Williams (204-0/62.19), ’18 national champ Reggie Jagers — as a lefty a rarity among discus throwers — was the only other contestant to get past 200ft (61m) in round 1. He sent his platter to the far right side of the sector at 200-5 (61.08).

In round 2, Legend Boyesen Hayes, a 25-year-old alum of Div. III Christopher Newport, spun a throw out to 202-11 (61.85) to move into 3rd. Finley’s 199-2 (60.70) lifted him to 5th behind Jagers and his round 3 effort, 198-9 (60.59), flew right up the center of the sector but failed to improve his position.

After the reorder for round 4, Finley at last turned his day around. He floated another, easier-looking, throw up the middle, this time to 206-0 (62.80). That would have sufficed for the win. Only Jagers got close thereafter, lofting one 205-5 (62.61) on his last throw. Mattis’s opener proved to be good for 3rd and he had just one other past 200, 203-10 (62.12) in frame 4.

Finley got an improvement to 206-11 (63.07) in round 5 and after his final toss flew unimpressively to the left in the sector, he walked out the front of the ring a winner.

“It’s huge,” Finley said of his Trials defense. “I’ve been having a lot of back issues this season and by the time I got here I didn’t even know if I was gonna compete because the airplane’s small and I’m giant.

A flight itinerary that took Finley to Eugene from Kansas City via Dallas did a number on his twitchy back. Fortunately, he said, he arrived 10 days before the final, enough time to knock down the pain.

”I met a really great chiropractor that was here, Dr. Curt Draeger,” he said. “He got me to enough to where I could at least do what I did today and be back and be the champion. Honestly, I kind of didn’t even expect this so this was awesome.”

MEN’S DISCUS RESULTS

(June 25)

1. Mason Finley (unat) 206-11 (63.07)

(f, 199-2, 198-9, 206-0, 206-11, f) (f, 60.70, 60.59, 62.80, 63.07, f);

2. Reggie Jagers (Iron) 205-5 (62.61)

(200-5, 200-10, 196-6, f, 194-10, 205-5) (61.08, 61.23, 59.90, f, 59.39, 62.61);

3. Sam Mattis (NYAC) 205-1 (62.51)

(205-1, 199-7, f, 203-10, 199-7, 197-4) (62.51, 60.84, f, 62.12, 60.85, 60.15);

4. Brian Williams (Tracksm) 204-0 (62.19)

(204-0, f, f, f, 197-0, 196-2) (62.19, f, f, f, 60.04, 59.81);

5. Legend Boyesen Hayes (GarS) 202-11 (61.85)

(189-5, 202-11, 198-0, 191-7, f, f) (57.74, 61.85, 60.36, 58.39, f, f);

6. Josh Syrotchen (GarS) 198-3 (60.44)

(192-1, 193-3, 195-3, f, f, 198-3) (58.56, 58.91, 59.53, f, f, 60.44);

7. James Plummer (Shore) 195-11 (59.73)

(194-9, f, f, f, f, 195-11) (59.36, f, f, f, f, 59.73);

8. Jordan Roach (unat) 194-4 (59.25)

(191-0, 190-2, 189-1, 194-4, 191-1, f) (58.23, 57.96, 57.64, 59.25, 58.25, f);

9. Duke Kicinski (unat) 190-10 (58.17)

(180-0, 190-10, f) (54.86, 58.17, f);

10. Nate Moses (unat) 190-5 (58.04)

(185-9, 190-5, f) (56.63, 58.04, f);

11. Ben Hammer (unat) 187-3 (57.09)

(f, 187-3, f) (f, 57.09, f);

12. Mitchell Weber (Mo) 185-4 (56.48)

(178-10, 171-8, 185-4) (54.51, 52.33, 56.48).

QUALIFYING (June 24)

Qualifiers: Hayes 205-4 (62.59), Jagers 205-2 (62.55), Mattis 203-11 (62.15), Syrotchen 203-0 (61.87), Williams 200-4 (61.07), Hammer 200-2 (61.03) PR, Kicinski 197-4 (60.15), Roach 196-10 (60.01), Moses 196-5 (59.88), Finley 195-8 (59.64), Weber 194-10 (59.38), Plummer 194-1 (59.17);

Non-qualifiers: Elijah Mason (Wa) 194-0 (59.14), Kord Ferguson (T1D) 193-8 (59.05), David Lucas (PennSt) 193-6 (58.99), Jared Schuurmans (unat) 193-1 (58.86), Turner Washington (AzSt) 192-5 (58.65), Luke Vaughn (unat) 192-2 (58.59), Jason Harrell (Arete) 191-0 (58.22), Sam Welsh (Harv) 190-4 (58.03), Darian Brown (unat) 189-8 (57.82), Jayson Kovar (unat) 187-9 (57.24), Marcus Gustaveson (ConcStP) 186-8 (56.90), Noah Kennedy White (unat) 180-8 (55.08), Joseph Brown (unat) 175-9 (53.56).

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