Men have deep group of throwers for outdoor season

Micah Hegerle and Quentin Mege both threw over 200 feet last weekend, an unprecedented feat at Minnesota.

by Dane Mizutani

In his first outdoor track meet of the season, MinnesotaâÄôs defending Big Ten champion in the hammer throw, Micah Hegerle, picked up right where he left off.

Hegerle threw a personal-best 212 feet, 9 inches last weekend at the Baldy Castillo Invitational in Tempe, Ariz. The score was good for the top collegiate score at the meet. Minnesota received a positive performance from French transfer student Quentin Mege as well: He placed fifth in the same event with a throw of 202 feet, 1 inch.

It was the first time a pair of Minnesota athletes has thrown for more than 200 feet in the same meet. The unprecedented episode displayed the depth the Gophers have in the hammer throw this season.

âÄúI think this is a uniquely strong group,âÄù assistant coach Lynden Reder said. âÄúThis isnâÄôt common for us to have this many strong hammer guys. I think we have the potential to score four athletes in this event.âÄù

This overall depth could play a pivotal role for Minnesota in its quest for another Big Ten title. The hammer throw is projected by many to be one of the strongest events for the Gophers this season.

Hegerle is shouldering a lot of the expectations following last seasonâÄôs campaign but said it is something that motivates him to get better.

âÄúItâÄôs a lot of pressure being the defending champion, but itâÄôs nice to have a target on your back,âÄù Hegerle said. âÄúItâÄôs motivating and nerve-racking at the same time.âÄù

The target will continue to grow as Hegerle continues to develop his strength.

âÄúIâÄôve been training in Portland, Oregon with a former Olympic hammer thrower, so itâÄôs been really good and has taught me a lot,âÄù Hegerle said.

However, strength is not the only thing that makes a good hammer thrower.

Reder said although overall strength and athleticism are essential, technique is what separates the good from the great.

âÄúQuentin Mege may not be in the same class as these other guys in terms of strength, but in terms of technique he is by far the best,âÄù Reder said.

Mege set a personal record of 207 feet, 6 inches in an eighth-place finish at the 2010 French Championships and will look to better his personal record this season.

Minnesota is hopeful that the soundness of MegeâÄôs technique can be transferred to its younger athletes.

Reder also spoke highly of the potential of Andy Norman and Tyler Kleinhuizen, and is hopeful that they can reach their ceilings by the end of the season.

âÄúUsually a school would be ecstatic about having one 200-foot hammer thrower, and we have three but could potentially have four or five by the end of the year,âÄù Reder said.

The ongoing competition within the team pushes each athlete to improve, since the Gophers can only take four throwers to the Big Ten championships. Once there, Reder expects all four to dominate.

âÄúI really feel we can put three or four athletes in the finals and by the end of the season have the deepest group of hammer throwers in the country,âÄù Reder said.