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Zaltos, Basten and Kohut-Jackson shine in first half of the NCAA Championships

Redshirt freshman Kostas Zaltos had a career-best throw of 71.21m to finish in third place in the men’s hammer throw.
Image by Courtesy of Gopher Athletics
Kostas Zaltos competes at the University of Minnesota Track and Field stadium on Friday, April 30.

Ten athletes representing Minnesota competed throughout the first half of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships earlier this week. Redshirt freshman Kostas Zaltos and redshirt seniors Alec Basten and Abby Kohut-Jackson had the best finishes across the seven events.

Zaltos highlights day one — Wednesday, June 9

In the first event of the meet’s competition and his NCAA Championships debut, Zaltos recorded his career-best throw of 71.21 meters to earn a third-place finish in the men’s hammer throw and was named First-Team All-American.

Zaltos made the top-nine cut in the finals after his first three throws of the competition. His career-best throw came early on in the second round. This throw counted as his final throw as scores do not reset after the cut, where he did not have a longer throw.

Outside of his 71.21-meter throw, Zaltos recorded throws of 69.53 meters, 69.48 meters, 69.37 meters, 68.77 meters, and had a foul in the third rotation of the evening.

Zaltos previously won the Big Ten Conference title coming into Wednesday’s contest and had also won five other hammer throw competitions in the 2021 season.

Zaltos’ redshirt freshman counterpart Kyle Atkinson also made his NCAA Championships debut after competing in the men’s shot put finals, finishing in 21st place after recording his longest throw of 17.45 meters in the first round of the event.

Atkinson threw two other times during the competition, recording a foul in the second round and a throw of 17.13 meters in the third. However, he did not make the final cut to earn three extra throws.

Wednesday night’s competition also included the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase semifinals as Basten punched his ticket to the events’ finals after placing third in his heat and 11th overall with a time of 8 minutes, 37.18 seconds.

Throughout Wednesday, graduate student Teddy Frid competed in the first half of the men’s decathlon, finishing in 17th place with 3,781 points.

Frid’s best finish of the five events came in the high jump, where he placed 10th with his highest jump recorded at 1.95 meters. However, his highest-scoring event was the 100-meters, where he earned 808 points after placing 19th in 11.24 seconds.

In the other three events of the decathlon, Frid earned a 13th place finish in the long jump, 16th place in the 400-meters and 20th place in the shot put.

Kohut-Jackson’s career night — Thursday, June 10

2021 USTFCCCA Midwest Region Women’s Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year Kohut-Jackson, highlighted Thursday’s competition for the Gophers after placing fifth in her heat and 10th overall in the semifinals of the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase to advance to the event’s finals.

The redshirt senior earned her career-best time of 9 minutes, 41.20 seconds, improving her Gophers program record in the event.

Kohut-Jackson’s veteran counterpart, Frid, competed in the second half of the men’s decathlon Thursday. He finished in 14th place with 7,330, moving up three positions in the event’s last five competitions to also be named Second-Team All-American.

On day two of the men’s decathlon, Frid earned three top-10 finishes, two more than he had on day one. His best finish came in the 1,500-meter run after he finished in fourth place with a time of 4 minutes, 34.74 seconds.

Frid also placed sixth in the pole vault by clearing 4.71 meters and eighth-place in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 14.79 seconds, earning him 875 points, which was his highest-scoring event of the day.

To conclude his decathlon, Frid also placed 12th in the discus (38.53 meters) and 16th in the javelin (44.16 meters).

In the women’s hammer throw finals, redshirt junior Tess Keyzers finished in 21st place after recording her best throw of 63.82 meters, her third-best throw of the season, in the first of three rotations in the event after she did not make the final cut to earn three extra throws.

To conclude day two of competition for the Gophers, the 4-x-400 meter relay team of redshirt senior Val Larson, sophomores Janielle Josephs and Jayla Campbell, and freshman Abigail Schaaffe placed in 12th after finishing with a time of 3 minutes, 36.20 seconds in the event’s semifinals. They were later named Second-Team All-Americans.

Correction: A previous version of this story included the number of athletes and events from the NCAA competition as a whole. The story has been updated to accurately represent days one and two. 

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated where Kostas Zaltos was competing in the photo. 

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