Matthias Tayala had one more chance and was in third place in the men’s hammer throw Thursday at the NCAA Division I National Track and Field Championships.
Not to worry. The Kent State junior and McDonald High School graduate not only saved his best for last, he made sure it was better than anyone’s best.
Tayala uncorked a throw of 73.57 meters (241 feet, 4 inches) — a personal best — on his final attempt and won a national championship in the event.
“It feels great to be the NCAA Division I National Champion in the hammer throw,” Tayala said. “Going out there and on my final throw going from third to winning the title is a great feeling. I knew I could do it, I just went up there and gave it my all.
“My family is the biggest support I have and wouldn’t be here without them. It feels good to do this not only for me but for Kent State, my coaches and for my teammates that are always there supporting me.”
With the hammer throw title, Tayala — the 2014 Great Lakes Region Field Athlete of the Year — is a first-team All-America selection.
“This is an outstanding day for Kent State athletics.,” Golden Flashes track and field coach Bill Lawson said. “On the biggest stage in collegiate track and field and at the most storied venue in America, Matthias Tayala hammered the best throw of his life.
“This is one of the greatest moments for me as a head coach in 35 years. Congratulations to Matthais, coach Nathan Fanger and Kent State.”
Fanger is a Golden Flashes assistant who specializes in throwing.
Tayala’s final throw broke his own school record, which was previously 236-7. His other throws Thursday measured 230-8, 224-10 and 231-2. He also fouled twice before the final throw.
Youngstown State sophomore Connor Neu concluded his first season with the Penguins by placing 15th in the hammer throw.
Neu, who was the eighth thrower in the first flight, opened with a throw of 59.93 meters (196-7) before marking a throw of 63.61 meters (208-8) on his second attempt. Neu fouled on his third and final attempt.
Neu and senior Bobby Grace earned second-team All-American honors. Grace finished 14th in the shot put Wednesday.
Kent State senior Joh’Vonnie Mosley — another McDonald graduate — placed 23rd in the women’s discus with a distance of 46.28 meter (151-10).
Sophomore teammate Danniel Thomas placed second in the discus.
Thomas finished with a best mark of 57.11 meters (187-4) to earn first-team All-America honors. Her other throws measured 175-9 and 171-6.