Area KSU athletes excel for Golden Flashes

KENT – Matthias Tayala is majoring in human movement at Kent State University.

The 6-foot, 225-pound thrower eventually wants to be a strength coach. As for now, he is displaying his feats of strength.

His 315-pound bench presses and 500-pound squats keep one of the nation’s best hammer throwers in top form.

Tayala even went to the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona, Spain last July.

The KSU sophomore and McDonald High School graduate, who went into Kent State weighing 190, has honed his craft in the throwing circle and won his fair share of invitational titles.

He won the hammer throw and discus titles at this weekend’s Campbell/Wright Invitational at the University of Akron, but his crowning achievement this year is the 217 feet, 8 inch throw at this year’s Penn Relays in Philadelphia – ranking him as the eighth best hammer thrower in the country.

Saturday’s discus throw of 185-7 ranks him first in the Mid-American Conference and 13th in the East region.

The shot put is another story. He hyper extended his middle throwing finger during an early season meet and hasn’t thrown since.

“It came off my hand and I thought I broke my knuckle,” Tayala said. “I’m pretty sure. It doesn’t hurt when I throw discus or hammer. I’m going to tape it up and hopefully get more than two throws in. It got stuck on my finger, just the one finger. It happened a month ago and it’s still pretty bad. Hopefully I’ll power through it.

“I’m going to throw at the conference meet and hopefully my finger holds up.”

KSU senior and Warren G. Harding graduate Mitchell Seawood knows all about the MAC Championship Meet, which is this Thursday through Saturday back in Akron.

Seawood wrenched his knee early in his junior outdoor season at WGH, but rallied to place all-Ohio in the 110-meter hurdles and as a leg of the 4×200 relay at the Division I Ohio High School Athletic Association state meet his senior year.

“I was able to bounce back with (WGH) coach (Charles) Penny by my side and my family and friends,” Seawood said. “They were able to help me become a better person outside of track. They helped me be a better athlete on the track and just transform that here at Kent State. (KSU) coach Steve (Rajewsky) and the support of my teammates have made me a lot better here and in the classroom as well.”

Last year he took fifth in the 110s at the MAC and was second his sophomore year. This weekend, Seawood wants more.

“This should be the year I should go out there and win it,” said Seawood, who will graduate either this month or this summer from KSU with a degree in interpersonal communications.

After graduation, Seawood hopes to help others with his degree.

“I have a couple of job offers for coaching,” he said. “I want to own my own business to help others to be better at their own craft, sport-wise. It doesn’t matter what athlete they are, I just want to help them.”

Fellow WGH graduate and KSU junior Marteze Roper helped some aspiring Raiders runners at a high school indoor meet at the KSU field house, especially WGH senior Jimmy Rumple, who has put up some respectable times this high school season.

“The first time I went 1:59, it was the hardest thing at the time,” Roper said. “I told him when you break it, it’s a smooth sail for there. You have to attack the workout.

“That’s the worst part of track. Nobody likes the workouts. It will help you out the most. Make sure you attack the workout. You have to want to get better is what I ultimately tell him. Penny can’t want it more than you want it. I tell him you have to make sure you want to go after it.”

Roper, who was part of the Raiders’ 2010 Division I state championship team, has excelled in the 800. During the indoor season, Roper clocked a 1:50.99 to earn MAC Track Athlete of the Week.

“I’m ready to break 1:50,” he said. “I came close, but I got hurt at MAC (indoors). Coming back this outdoor season, my goal is to make it to (outdoor) nationals eventually and break 1:50.”

McDonald graduate and KSU sophomore Miles Dunlap hopes to rebound from a strained Achilles prior to the start of outdoor season.

“I’ve yet to put together a complete 400 race,” he said. “My PR last year was 52.7 and I’m about a second off of that. The workouts have been promising. I’m trying to hit that regional mark, which is around 52.5.”

“It’s going to take 52.2, 52.3 to whoever is going to win the MAC. If I want to accomplish the two of those things, I’m going to have to go faster.”

Dunlap, who was out for about a month with his injury, missed the qualifying mark for last year’s NCAA East Regional, but hopes to get close to last year’s time this year.

“I actually want to get to regionals this year,” Dunlap said. “My goal is to try to win MAC in 400 hurdles. If I were to do that and a couple of other things happen, we have a real legitimate shot at winning the team title.”

As for McDonald graduate and KSU junior Joh’Vonnie Mosley, she has been perfecting her skills in the shot put and discus. She placed in the top five in both events at the Penn Relays. She’s also captured some invitational championships this season.

“My discus … I was happy with it,” Mosley said. “It’s kind of embarrassing, but I have not (got a personal best) in the shot and the disc since my freshman year when I threw 164 at the MAC meet in Northern Illinois. At practices, I’d throw close to 170 feet. Then, in the meet, I wouldn’t produce the same and get those results. It would be frustrating. My first throw (in Virginia), I’d throw 49 meters (160-7). I was excited because that was the first time I got over 160 this year.”

She’s been working with KSU throws coach Nathan Fanger, who has mentored some All-Americans and MAC champions in his tenure.

“The one thing I will say is I’ve been consistent each meet in my discus throws,” Mosley said. “My shot put throws, I’ve been throwing, 51. Of course, I want to be throwing further than that. I just know when I connect one in that shot put. Coach Fanger said once you connect one, it’s going to go from 53 to 54 to 55 feet. I know it’s in me to do that.”