MATTHIAS Tayala is used to being the king of the ring.
Today, he's happy to be one of the guys.
The former McDonald High School standout won the Division III state titles in shot put and discus in 2011, as he and teammate Miles Dunlap paced the Blue Devils to a Division III state team championship.
He went on to Kent State University and had success there as well - qualifying for NCAA regionals in the hammer throw and discus. Dunlap also runs for KSU.
Last month, Tayala went on to qualify for the U.S. Junior National Team, placing second in the hammer throw with 70.08 meters - a personal best. That comes out to approximately 229 feet, 9 inches as he competes in the hammer qualifying today at 7:45 a.m. - 1:45 p.m. in Barcelona for the IAAF World Junior Championships.
The favorite is Bence Pa'sztor of Hungary. His 77.02m throw is the best one coming into today's prelims. Pa'sztor competes in Group A, which goes off at 6 a.m. - noon in Barcelona. Tayala is in Group B. There are a total of 47 competitors in both groups.
"This is the best competition I have ever seen in the hammer as well as every other event, by far the best competition I have ever seen," Tayala said via a Facebook interview.
His goal is block out the rest of the competition and concentrate on his own results. Making it to Saturday's finals is not a concern. The qualification standard is 72.50m or at least the best 12 qualified to finals.
"My goal now is pretty much to do the best I can do and not worry about how anyone else does," Tayala said. "Making finals would be a bonus for me."
It is a different experience for Tayala, in more ways than one.
"The cultural differences are crazy here considering there are 180 countries here and a very few amount speak English. It is very hard to talk to other athletes," Tayala said. "The food is a very hard adjustment. Also, as I try to eat as much as possible it seems to have no effect on me and I feel like I'm losing weight daily which isn't good."
But this isn't Tayala's first time outside the U.S. His mother's family lives in Germany and Tayala has been there a few times, but never to Spain.
And, if there's a time for sightseeing, Tayala is up for it.
"Seeing the stadium was a very great experience for me," he said. "I would like to walk around the city a little bit before I leave and the basketball arena where the 1992 Olympics were are right next to the stadium. I would like to walk inside there and go on the court before I leave."
Maybe, just maybe, in four years, Tayala can go sightseeing in Rio de Janeiro.
"I think this is a big step for the 2016 Olympic Games and that certainly is one of my goals," Tayala said.
Consider how hard this former McDonald standout works, Rio is a strong possibility for this talented thrower.