Tayala looks forward during recovery

NILES — Matthias Tayala sees the progress his athletes are making — looking down on McDonald High School from a throwing circle. It’s the same one on which the Blue Devils and Kent State standout honed his skills.

Tayala is an active onlooker these days, giving his advice or an occasional throw of the discus and shot put.

Tayala thought about his specialized event in which he thrived in that concrete home — the hammer throw — the weighted metallic ball attached to a chain, and how his tight, circular motion whipped this implement far from its starting point.

The late June USA Track and Field Championships reminded him of what he’s temporarily lost. Tayala watched in despair the winning throw of 241-11, a mark he came within seven inches of to claim the 2014 NCAA championship for Kent State.

“I can’t really say I would’ve won, but I know what I’m capable of,” Tayala said. “I feel like I could’ve competed and made it a chance for the world. It’s world championships this year.”

The pain started in December of 2015 during a cold training session.

He felt a pinch in his hip, but ignored the temporary pain. It soon became a nagging issue, hindering progress. The 2016 Summer Olympics were on the horizon and Tayala didn’t want to miss his opportunity.

He pushed through the pain, which was eventually diagnosed as a torn labrum in his hip. The soft tissue surrounding his hip socket was damaged, the placement where the bone and socket attach needed repair. A screw was put inside the hip joint to repair the wear and tear.

Surgery took place in October of 2016 and eight to nine months away from the sport ensued, something that mentally and physically drained Tayala.

“First three months, that’s where I was at,” he said. “I couldn’t walk. Even getting up out of bed or up off the couch was the worst pain of my life.

“I couldn’t even move. That was tough for three months where I couldn’t even move.”

He knew he could lay around for three-quarters of a year and wallow in misery knowing he couldn’t practice the hammer. He had to recover from this setback.

Tayala was an All-Ohio basketball player at McDonald, in addition to being a track & field standout. Being on the hardwood brought the much-needed smile back on his face, along with Hubbard High School making him the Eagles’ freshman boys basketball coach. It fit into his training schedule and is something he’s doing again this winter.

There’s also the weight training at McDonald with former high school and college teammate Miles Dunlap, who is training to be on the U.S. Bobsled team for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. They play a lot of one-on-one basketball games as well.

Stretching that joint and doing some body building things are important, but the Olympic lifting, which involves the violent motions found in the hammer throw, are taboo for another month or so — the same time he can finally throw again.

“For him, it’s mostly finding other things to do,” Dunlap said. “Every day he would throw.

“He found a lot of other stuff. He fishes a lot. He finds other stuff to fill that temporary gap when he can’t be throwing.”

He’s a private throwing coach with some athletes from McDonald, Mineral Ridge, Canfield and other area schools, working on the shot and discus. He even has a sixth-grade McDonald thrower who he said has potential in the hammer.

Eventually, Tayala hopes to follow in Dane Miller’s footsteps to have his own version of the Garage Strength Performance Training in Reading, Pa. It’s a 1,100 square foot facility full of weights and other training implements.

“It’s awesome,” Tayala said of his current training. “I’m biased toward McDonald kids. Helping McDonald kids grow and seeing them get better is amazing. Have a little part of helping McDonald because they helped me so much.”

This time around, when Tayala picks up the hammer, it’ll mean that much more.

“You appreciate what you got a lot more when it’s taken away from you,” Dunlap said. “He’s very anxious to get started and prove himself.”