Strong start heightens Mege’s hammer hopes

Quentin Mege broke a school record in his first meet of the season.

Megan Ryan

Senior Quentin Mege broke his own school record in the hammer throw in the first meet of the outdoor track and field season.

And to think he almost didn’t return to Minnesota for his last year of eligibility.

Mege graduated last year with a mechanical engineering degree and was set on taking a job instead of returning to competition. But when a job recruiter said Mege could have the same offer in a year’s time, the France native decided to finish his Gophers track and field career.

Mege is also the two-time defending Big Ten outdoor champion in the hammer throw and an All-American after placing fifth in last year’s national meet.

This season, Mege has lofty goals. He wants to throw 70 meters — about two-and-a-half meters more than his current record. He wants to defend his Big Ten title and claim the Big Ten record. He also wants to finish in the top three at the NCAA outdoor championships.

But after his early season success, Mege said these have become much more than goals.

“There’s definitely expectations to throw further now,” Mege said.

Mege traveled to Texas after the Big Ten indoor championships to train outdoors at Southern Methodist University. This extra training gave him a two-week jump on his competitors and helped him break his school record.

But Mege said he realizes he won’t post his farthest throws at every meet this season.

“I’ve got to mentally accept that, OK, I might take a step back to take another two steps forward,” Mege said.

Assistant coach Lynden Reder said he isn’t concerned about a drop-off in Mege’s performance because his knowledge of the sport and dedication to technique helps him improve as the season continues.

Fellow thrower sophomore Justin Barber said Mege’s success pushes his teammates to perform better — like at the Arizona meet where all four hammer throwers set personal records.

“It’s nice to train with him … because he knows so much about the event already,” Barber said. “It’s like almost having a second coach. We’re able to learn from him, too.”

Reder called Mege his partner in training.

While Mege said he’s pretty positive he will break his school record again this season, he’s realistic about his national title hopes. Two-time defending champion Alexander Ziegler from Virginia Tech is also in his senior year.

But Reder said regardless of how others compete, Mege will still be a threat.

“He’s poised to certainly have the best season of his career,” Reder said. “There’s no doubt about that.”