Track and Field hammer champion is ‘next best hope’ for Olympic throwers

Josh Yager

Matthias Tayala, a junior physical education major at Kent State University and now NCAA Division I National Champion, won first place in the hammer throw at the National Championships at the University of Oregon at Historic Hayward Field on June 12.

Tayala said he secured at least third place going into his last throw. He broke the school’s previous record, which he set with his winning throw at 241 feet and 4 inches, putting him in first place.

“I still wanted to throw further so I went in and got the crowd going and myself amped up,” Tayala said. “The throw obviously felt really good and I ended up passing the two people in front of me.”

Tayala said he still had fun with the event and found ways to spice up practice.

Joel Nielsen, Kent State’s Athletic Director, said Tayala has been really fun to watch grow the past few years.

“To see the explosion and to see him compete is something that people have to see if they haven’t seen him already,” Nielsen said. “He gets everything out of his body.  He’s so explosive and he’s so strong for his size.”

Nielsen said Nathan Fanger, assistant coach for throwers, is one of the shining stars in the athletic department.

“Like several of the coaches on our staff, he attracts student athletes to come to him,” Nielsen said. “They know he is one of the best in the business and he can develop them to be the best they can be.”  

Tayala said coach Fanger is a huge part of his success in the program and is part of the reason why he came to Kent State.

“He’s obviously instrumental in all of this, he helps every day at practice,” Tayala said. “He’s obviously one of the best coaches around.”

Fanger said Tayala is probably the most athletic student he has ever coached and is one of the most athletic kids in the country across the board. 

“He was all-state in football and basketball in high school,” Fanger said. “It’s not just the talent level but the attitude level. If you don’t have the attitude Tayala has, you are not going to fall on everything he has potential for.”

Fanger said Tayala improves every year and is America’s “next best hope” for throwers in the Olympics

“His first year he went from 60 meters to 66 meters and his second year he went from 66 meters to 73 meters,” Fanger said. “If we just have a small increase from 73 to 76, it would be a standard for the world championships.” 

Fanger said he has a huge future ahead of him with Olympics in mind.

Contact Josh Yager at [email protected].