Owens Classic — Joe Kovacs Tops Big Series With 74-6½

A mighty outdoor opener brought Joe Kovacs to within 4 inches of Ryan Crouser’s absolute yearly leader. (KEVIN MORRIS)

COLUMBUS, OHIO, May 01 — In opening his outdoor season at the Jesse Owens Classic, shot star Joe Kovacs announced with his actions, “Now there are two!” Two men putting near the far horizon of shot performance as the Olympic Trials loom less than 6 weeks in the future.

Reigning world champion Kovacs lofted his first throw 71-10¾ (21.91), a quality opener, and then spun out a mighty 74-6½ (22.72) yearly outdoor leader. It was the second-longest put of his career, exceeded only by the gargantuan 75-2 (22.91) that won in Doha 19 months ago.

“I was glad to start it up,” said Kovacs, who trains on the campus of Owens host Ohio State, where his wife/coach Ashley mentors the Buckeye throwers. “You know, I wasn’t even really sure if I was going to throw in the meet or not, ’cause who knows what the weather’s going to be like here in Ohio and we were just kind of waiting for later in the season. But I’m glad I did it. And it turned out pretty darn well, so I’m happy with it.”

Fouling not once, Kovacs tacked four more impressive throws onto his series — 72-1 (21.97), 73-1¼ (22.28), 71-10¾ again, and 73-2¾ (22.32) — for an average distance of 22.18 (72-9½) that launches him squarely into the ’21 ballgame with indoor WR-setter Ryan Crouser, he of a phenomenal winter campaign just past.

“I was happy to have 6 throws that were all over 21.91, and I had the best average of my career,” said the Rio silver medalist. “My average was 22.18, so that was a great start for me — because no fouls, first of all, and also, you know, I’m happy with the 22.72 start.”

(Be sure to check back here at trackandfieldnews.com for an upcoming feature on Kovacs as he eyes the Trials and Games.)

On the women’s side of things, Ohio State senior Anavia Battle was the standout, riding illegal tailwinds to wins of 11.10w and 22.27w. The latter was the year’s fastest collegiate mark under all conditions.

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