USATF Men’s Discus — An Ill Wind That Blew Everybody Good

Nationals conditions gave Reggie Jagers a chance to overcome his left-handed disadvantage. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

The winds that came with the final day’s storm didn’t do favors for athletes in many events (e.g., see men’s long jump), but the men’s discus throwers weren’t among the afflicted. Indeed, the results had a time-warp quality to them harkening back to Nationals results of bygone decades. The first 8 all broke 200ft (c61m). That hadn’t happened since ’96. The first 4 were all over 210 (c64m). That hadn’t happened since ’89. And the winner was over 225 (68.58) for the first time since John Powell set the MR of 233-9 (71.26) in ’84.

After his PR 225-1 (68.61), winner Reggie Jagers of the Iron Wood TC said, “I just love being a guy that no one’s talking about, coming out here and breaking a record.” Record? Yes, farthest throw ever by a left-hander.

You might think that’s an arcane stat which should matter only to hardcore numbers geeks, but it’s a factoid which takes on added significance in the discus, an event where the wind can wreak havoc with southpaws. Keeping the physics as simple as possible: because of the way the discus is spinning, the longest discus throws come when there’s a quartering headwind from your dominant side. And that’s usually the right. When a strong right-hander wind hits a lefty discus the plate can flutter to earth like a Sopwith Camel after an encounter with the Red Baron.

So Jagers frequently operates at a disadvantage. Today he didn’t, and he made the most of it. But funny thing, as those mass numbers show, the righties were making some hay as well. As Jagers explained it, “The wind was swirling so much that everyone had at least one throw with perfect wind.”

At the end of the first round, yearly list leader Sam Mattis held the lead at 214-8 (65.45) with Jagers next at 208-5 (63.54). Two-time defender Mason Finley had fouled. Neither Mattis nor Jagers improved in the second round, but Finley moved into 2nd with a 214-1 (65.27). Round 3 was good stuff, with Mattis improving his lead to 217-7 (66.32), but 4 throwers later Jagers unleashed a PR 219-7 (66.92) to move into the top spot. Round 4 found Jagers fouling, with Finley improving to 215-9 (65.77) and Mattis keeping the pressure on at 216-6 (66.00).

The fifth stanza was another biggie with Finley reaching a seasonal best—and No. 3 throw of his career—at 220-0 (67.06). He was now in the lead… briefly. Mattis fouled and that brought Jagers back into the ring. Boom! The left-handed WR. The final round was anticlimactic, but the few fans who chose the plate-spinners over track action had received a special treat.

Said Jagers, “I was just disappointed that the big throw hadn’t come out all year and I just stayed focused and I knew good things will eventually happen. So I just came in ready. I knew in my heart, I’ve done 69, at least during practice, so I knew coming up to that meet, there’s a lot of big throws in there, we can really do something special. So me throwing 68.61 at the meet and breaking my old facility record from Drake Relays 5 weeks prior, it wasn’t a shock to me. It was just, with all the hard work, it finally came out as more of a relief that I felt.”


(June 24)

1. Reggie Jagers (Iron) 225-1 (68.61) PR (AL) (left-handed “WR”)

(208-5, 202-5, 219-7 PR, f, 225-1, f) (63.54, 61.70, 66.92, f, 68.61, f);

2. Mason Finley (Nik) 220-0 (67.06)

(f, 214-1, f, 215-9, 220-0, 212-6) (f, 65.27, f, 65.77, 67.06, 64.79);

3. Sam Mattis (NYAC) 217-7 (66.32)

(214-8, f, 217-7, 216-6, f, 215-3) (65.45, f, 66.32, 66.00, f, 65.60);

4. Andrew Evans (unat) 212-2 (64.66)

(199-2, 207-1, 210-6, f, 204-1, 212-2) (60.72, 63.13, 64.16, f, 62.21, 64.66);

5. Jared Schuurmans (unat) 209-11 (63.99)

(196-10, 198-11, 196-8, 205-5, 209-11, 196-9) (60.01, 60.64, 59.94, 62.61, 63.99, 59.97);

6. Luke Vaughn (Mem) 207-1 (63.13) PR

(195-4, 193-5, 207-1, f, 200-5, f) (59.55, 58.95, 63.13, f, 61.10, f);

7. Phil Jagers (unat) 202-4 (61.68);

8. Jason Harrell (Arete) 201-0 (61.26);

9. Brian Williams (Ms) 196-7 (59.92);

10. Reno Tuufuli (Ia) 196-1 (59.76);

11. Jerimiah Evans (MiSt) 191-2 (58.27);

12. Payton Otterdahl (NDSt) 190-11 (58.21);

13. Ashmon Lucas (Pur) 185-3 (56.47);

14. Josh Syrotchen (unat) 178-11 (54.55);

15. Brett Olsen (unat) 177-1 (53.99);

16. Rodney Brown (unat) 170-0 (51.83);

17. Ben Hammer (SD) 164-4 (50.08).