EUGENE, Ore. - Kent State junior Matthias Tayala was crowned the NCAA Division I National Champion in the Hammer Throw on Thursday at the National Championships at Historic Hayward Field at the University of Oregon.
Tayala, who sat in third with one throw to go, claimed the title with a final throw of 73.57 meters (241 feet, 4 inches). The former McDonald standout made his last throw of the day count most, and his new personal-best shattered his own school record, which was previously 236-07.
"I felt pretty good going in, I knew I was a pretty decent thrower," Tayala said. "I had a couple good warm-ups, and on my last throw I tried to get the crowd involved a little bit and they really helped me out. It was one of my better technical throws and it went, so it felt pretty good to win it on my last throw.
"My previous best mark was 70 meters, 40 something, so it was about a 10-foot jump from my previous best throw of the day, so it was a pretty big jump with my last throw."
Oklahoma's Nick Miller was projected to win the event by many, but Tayala proved them wrong and outlasted the heavily-favored junior with one last big last throw to steal it in the end. Tayala's best mark beat Miller's best mark of 237-06 (72.40 meters) by nearly four feet.
"I wasn't projected to win, so there wasn't any heavy pressure on me," Tayala said. "This guy from Oklahoma was supposed to win by a pretty big margin. There's been a lot of talk on the Internet that he was going to pretty much dominate the competition, and that was pretty big motivation for me, and on my last throw I got a pretty big one. He could have beat me on his last throw, but he fouled it."
On the day, Tayala's six throws were: 230-08, foul, 224-10, foul, 231-02 and then his winning 241-04.
With the hammer throw title, the 2014 Great Lakes Region Field Athlete of the Year is now a first-team All-American selection.
"It feels great," Tayala said. "The first place guy that was supposed to win was pretty much head and shoulders above everyone else, but I could hit a pretty decent one to push him a little bit, so it feels pretty good to hit that throw on the day and he wasn't able to respond."