Historic duo prepares for final throws at NCAAs

Micah Hegerle and Quentin Mege have combined to win four straight Big Ten titles.

Jace Frederick

Gophers hammer throwers Micah Hegerle and Quentin Mege took two different paths to land in the same position at the end of their illustrious collegiate careers.

Hegerle, a Minnesota native, and Mege, a transfer from Chelles, France, have developed into two of the best collegiate throwers in the U.S.

The two seniors have competed against each other at some of the nation’s biggest events while building a close bond.

“They’ve pushed each other and helped each other overcome a lot of obstacles to accomplish what they’ve done,” said Gophers throwing coach Lynden Reder.

Hegerle and Mege will wrap up their careers at the  NCAA outdoor track and field championships June 5-8 in Eugene, Ore.

Instant success

Hammer throw wasn’t on Hegerle’s radar coming out of Kasson-Mantorville High School in Kasson, Minn.; he had previously thrown shot put and discus.

But when Hegerle arrived on campus, Reder saw his potential in the event.

“I really thought he had the tools to be a really good hammer thrower,” Reder said. “Most guys come [into college] having not thrown the hammer. … There’s an opportunity to outlearn your competitors.”

Hegerle did just that. He quickly adjusted to the differences in footwork and turns and won the 2010 Big Ten outdoor title in his first year of competition.

Mege transferred to Minnesota from a school in France before the 2011 season. Reder said he worked tirelessly with Mege to jump through the hoops necessary for the transfer.

“I really felt like if we stick with this, the payoff is going to be really big for both sides,” Reder said.

It was almost immediate. Mege beat Hegerle to win the hammer throw at the 2011 Big Ten championships.

 The throwers racked up more accomplishments their sophomore and junior seasons. Mege repeated as Big Ten hammer throw champion in 2012, and Hegerle won back-to-back Big Ten weight throwing titles in 2011 and 2012.

 Both earned All-American honors in the hammer throw at last year’s NCAA meet. Mege finished fifth, while Hegerle took seventh.

A throwing family

 Hegerle reclaimed his Big Ten title in the hammer throw this season, while Mege finished second as he battled back from a broken hand he suffered earlier in the season.

Hegerle’s win gave both throwers two conference hammer throw titles.

“I think they probably wouldn’t have it any other way,” Reder said.

Though the two compete, Hegerle and Mege still root for each other.

They aim to improve at practice rather than compete, Mege said.

They feed off each other to get better, especially in the offseason, Hegerle said.

“We both like to see each other succeed, but at the same time we want to beat each other,” Hegerle said. “It’s definitely a way to motivate each other in the weight room and in training.”

Reder said the time practicing, training, attending meets and traveling has pushed him and the two throwers together.

“We’re kind of like family,” Reder said. “We probably really enjoy each other’s company at times and want to smack each other at times and get on each other’s nerves at times.”

He said the throwers are also close when they aren’t practicing.

“I think it’s a special relationship,” Reder said. “They’ve contributed to not only their athletic success, but maybe even more than that, the overall depth and richness of their experiences here as athletes.”

Neither thrower is eliminating the possibility of winning the NCAA hammer throw title, but expectations are tempered. Mege said he wants to finish in the top three, while Hegerle said he hopes to be an All-American again.

Regardless of this week’s result, both throwers have left their mark on the sport.

“They’re going to be inseparable in the history of our program,” Reder said. “[They’re] … definitely the best hammer duo that the Big Ten has ever had [and probably] one of the best duos that the country has ever had.”