Track and field athletes earn All-American

Richie Mulhall

Four Kent State track and field athletes traveled all the way to “Track Town, U.S.A.” in Eugene, Ore., to compete in the 2013 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Two freshmen from the women’s team emerged from the meet as All-Americans.

The top eight finishers in each event earned top honors as All-Americans. The athletes who placed nine through 16 were named to the Second Team.

Freshman thrower Danniel Thomas competed in the women’s discus and shotput events and earned First Team All-American honors in discus Thursday. She came in eighth place and threw a personal-best throw of 179 feet, 9 inches to become Kent State’s first women’s outdoor discus All-American since 2000.

In the shotput event, Thomas just missed her second All-American finish, placing 19th. She threw a 50-5.25 and she needed to throw a 52-5.50 to get into the top 16 for a Second Team All-American accolade.

The second Golden Flash to be named to an All-American team was Thomas’s fellow freshman teammate, Dior Delophont. On her first day of competition Friday, Delophont leaped 42 feet, 2¼ inches to earn 15th place. She earned Second Team All-American honors and became the program’s first women’s outdoor triple jump All-American.

On Saturday, Delophont sought to follow up her spectacular triple jump performance with an equally impressive high jump. She did just that, maybe even better.

In the triple jump, Delophont jumped 5 feet, 10.75 inches on her way to a 13th-place finish and second Second Team All-American honor. With this special distinction, Delophont became the first woman in Kent State history to claim high jump All-American status.

For the men’s track and field team, thrower Reggie Jagers was another freshman student-athlete competing in his first outdoor national meet. He placed 18th in the men’s discus throw with a throw of 178-2.

Throwing coach Nathan Fanger said the national meet was “experience more than anything” young athletes like Thomas and Jagers, who have never competed on a big stage.

“Once you make it as freshman, it just becomes that easier to make it in the years to come,” Fanger said. “I think if they get [national meet] experience … they can compete against the kids that are top in the country.”

Sophomore Matthias Tayala earned an honorable mention All-American achievement after placing 22nd in the men’s hammer throw. In the event, Matthias threw 197-8, which was exactly 20 feet off of his best throw of 217-8, which he threw at the big annual Penn Relays meet earlier in the season. Tayala’s personal best throw was ranked 8th in the nation going into the national meet.

Tayala’s throw this weekend was about 7 feet shorter than his throw in the East Prelims, with which Tayala was not happy.

Fanger said Matthias still has a good chance of becoming an All-American some day, and said he has enjoyed watching Tayala grow and develop during the past two seasons.

“Again [Tayala’s] still only a sophomore, so he’ll have two more years of competition – he’ll probably have a redshirt year – so really three more years of NCAA competition, so hopefully down the road he’ll become a national championship.”

After this weekend, Kent State track and field head coach Lawson said he is excited for the future of the team and said he believes both the men’s and women’s teams will only get better from here.

“I think the goal is for [Tayala, Delophont, Jagers and Thomas] to be the core group, and then over the next two and three years to rally a team around them just where we can bring even a larger contingency for both the indoor and the outdoor national championships and really make a statement of what Kent State is trying at the conference level and the national level,” Lawson said. “The future looks bright.”

Contact Richie Mulhall at [email protected].