Rogers Now A 3-Time Collegiate Record Setter

With her latest CR of 248-5 Camryn Rogers is closing in on the 250-foot barrier. (DON GOSNEY)

“I KNEW IT WAS going to be a pretty amazing experience,” says Cal’s Camryn Rogers of her decision to sign with the Bears 5 years ago. “I chose to come to Cal for a reason: its world-class education, its world-class coaching, and that’s something very special that you can’t get everywhere.”

For the hammer thrower from Richmond, British Columbia — who boasted a very respectable best of 208-1 (63.42) the season before she donned the blue & gold uniform — the decision sent her on a trajectory she couldn’t have predicted, with two NCAA titles, three Collegiate Records, an Olympic 5th and a spot in the World Rankings.

“Seeing how my life has changed and how many doors have opened and how many incredible individuals I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and befriending… I feel like I imagined the absolute best, but even then, being here has been everything I could have imagined and so much more,” she says. “My life has completely changed in the best way and a lot of that has to do with the team as well as my incredible coach, Mo Saatara.”

The arc of Rogers’ career began with an impulsive decision when she was 12. As she describes it, “The first time that I started throwing was one of those moments where, you know, it wasn’t supposed to happen. It was so last-minute that it could really only be fate in a way, and I don’t use that word lightly. I decided to go to the first practice of the new year at my local track & field club, 15 minutes before it started. I had some ‘semi’ exercise clothes, and I just went and hoped for the best.

“That ended up being the first day that I met Richard [Collier]. And from there, that was basically just the beginning of everything.”

Collier, the late coach of the Kajaks club, decided almost immediately that Rogers would make a fine hammer thrower, although she says, “I had never done a sport before. Track & field is actually my first and only-ever sport. To go from nothing to everything: right when I started, we were training 6 days a week. I had no clue what to expect, but he just said, ‘We keep doing this and it’s going to pay off. Just trust the process and exciting things are going to be around the corner.’”

He didn’t lie. In ’16 she won the Canadian Junior title and made it to the World Juniors. The following year she captured Pan-Am Junior gold. Then, as a Cal frosh working with Saatara, she improved to 215-3 (65.61) and won gold at the World Juniors in Finland.

“Having [Collier] as my first coach, it opened my eyes to this incredible world of athletics and I truly and honestly could not imagine what my life would be like without athletics. I started at an age where I was young enough that it has truly changed and defined my entire life. It’s incredible to know that opportunities that are so big can happen from small decisions, like going to that first track practice.”

Now near the end of her days competing for the Bears, Rogers has been the dominant thrower in the NCAA for the last three years. She has won three Pac-12 titles, as well as the last two NCAA crowns — and is heavily favored to add another in June.

Obviously, it helps that she can whirl the ball distances that other collegians have only dreamed of. She has produced 6 of the top 9 collegiate hammer marks ever. Her first CR came in her opening throw at last year’s NCAA, a 245-11 (74.97). Before the day was done, she had extended that to 247-9 (75.52).

Later in the summer, she placed 5th in Tokyo, the key element in earning her first-ever T&FN World Ranking, a No. 8. “There’s a lot to take away from that experience and I learn more about how I compete, what kind of competitor I am, how I operate in those high-stress, high-pressure situations,” she says.

“The way that coach Mo and I look at training and the way that we envision our competitions, especially last year, going into the Games, was absolutely perfect. Coach Mo and I just work so well together and having somebody be such a beacon of support and know so much about high-level competition preparation and everything that goes into that is so extremely helpful.”

This spring she has continued her progress. Her only loss came to Brooke Anderson at Mt. SAC, but in losing she was never better, hitting 248-5 (75.73) for a third CR (and equaling the Canadian Record, to boot).

“The training we have been doing has really prepared us for some big throws and to see it come in on that day, and to know that again, there’s still further to go, it’s exciting. It’s nice to see these throws coming in earlier and knowing that there are still so many months left of throwing and competing. It’s really an exciting place to be.”

The throw itself, the 22-year-old rates with a critical eye: “There were some good things that we definitely had going on in it, but there are also things to work on. But to have that be a personal best means that we’re in a good place. It means that there’s always more to do and there are always ways to get better.”

She boils down the technical goal: “Just getting the hammer really far out from my body. Just having a nice big orbit and just keep pushing it harder and harder in every turn throughout the whole throw.”

With the final trip to the NCAAs coming up, both athlete and coach have planned the steps it will take to continue to be a force on the world stage, Rogers says:

“We’re very detail-oriented in the way that we plan. Every competition, every training session, every single action that we take is very purposeful. It’s taking those learning moments from the Olympic Games, it’s taking every single moment as a learning experience and opportunity and using it to the best of our advantage, knowing exactly what it was that we had to do better from last year, but also knowing that there are things right now that are going right, are going really well, and putting that all together on the big stage.

“I mean, that’s what you worked for. That’s what you trained for. That’s the best part about being an athlete, to be out there and just be competitive.”

Rogers, who is finishing a double degree in Political Economy and Society & Environment, will soon be starting a master’s program in Education, with an eye toward one day going to law school. “It’s kind of figuring out how that’s going to work with training,” she says with a laugh.

She has every hope of continuing to work with Saatara, who is on a roll, currently also coaching men’s discus CR setter Mykolas Alekna. “My plan is to continue throwing and to be doing it professionally. To be able to do that with coach Mo is an absolute dream. The next natural step forward in this career is to keep our partnership going for as long and as far as we can. The way that we’ve trained, everything has worked so well. And it’s about staying in that system. That is so important.

“We’re in a good place, and there’s still so much more we have left to do.”

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