TURLOCK, Calif. – News and notes while contemplating putting on a jacket here at the NCAA Division II outdoor track and field championship meet:
• ACU senior thrower Tyler Fleet – competing in his final event as a Wildcat – entered the men's hammer throw ranked 12th in the nation, but was able to reach the final with an opening-round throw of 193 feet, 1 inch. Fleet, however, wasn't able to better that throw in the final round and finished ninth, just out of the points and all-America contention.
Fleet, however, has other things on his mind these days. Things that former ACU president Dr. Royce Money likes to call "Kingdom Work." Fleet will be leaving the United States next Saturday for Nairobi, Kenya, where he will be working at a high school as a Young Life / FCA representative. He'll be gone for 15 months, and as his dad and ACU letterman, Gary, watched his son compete Thursday morning, he said through a choked-up voice, "This is a tough weekend."
Gary said it's doubtful that they'll see Tyler in person for 15 months after he leaves the USA, but added that with "video chat, Skype and other communication devices, we'll still be able to see him on a daily basis."
Look for more on this story this weekend.
• Senior thrower Paige Newby of Colorado City landed in San Francisco with her teammates Monday night, but for the next few days she'll be more cheerleader than athlete. Newby – the defending national champion in the discus – won't compete at the national track meet until 7:30 p.m. Saturday (9:30 p.m. Abilene time). Newby did say she was a cheerleader as a youngster growing up in Longview, so she might break out a few routines in support of her teammates.
• Junior thrower Ryan Loughney of Ashland (Ohio) put on quite a show Thursday morning on his way to winning his second straight national title in the hammer throw. Loughney's worst throw of the competition was 222 feet, 1 inch. But it was his final throw in the preliminaries that had everyone around the ring buzzing as he posted a mark of 70.15 meters (230 feet, 2 inches) to establish both Division II meet and Al Brenda Warrior Stadium records.
Loughney's mark made him just the second Division II thrower in history to top 70 meters, joining Division II record-holder and current USA thrower Kibwe Johnson, who posted a Division II all-time best mark of 75.95 meters (249 feet, 2 inches) in July 2007.
• The 2012 NCAA Division II outdoor championship meet will reportedly be in Pueblo, Colo., although official word of the meet's destination hasn't been made official. If the meet is in Colorado, it will mark the first time in the meet's history that it will held in the Rocky Mountain State.
• While those of you in Texas are sweating through the air conditioning this weekend, consider this: tonight's low in Turlock will be 52 with the high temperatures the next two days set for 78 and 74 degrees, respectively. Good thing I packed the jacket and a couple of long-sleeve shirts.