Jordan Clarke of Anchorage recorded one personal best after another Friday before finally uncorking the winning throw in the final round of the shot put competition at the NCAA Division I indoor track and field championships in Nampa, Idaho.
A junior at Arizona State, Clarke recorded five PRs, including a monster throw of 68 feet, 5 1/4 inches that earned him his second national track championship.
Last spring, Clarke won the shot put at the outdoor national meet to become Alaska's first Division I outdoor track and field champion.
"I've been really close to a big throw, I just haven't put it all together," he said by phone. "I've been very confident the last week with my training but I didn't think I'd throw 68 today.
"I was ready for a PR, but not one that big."
The 6-foot-4 Clarke entered the competition with personal records of 63-9 in indoor competition and 64-9 3/4 in outdoor competition. The 64-9 3/4 was his winning throw at last spring's NCAA championships.
Five times Friday, Clarke beat his indoor PR. Twice he bettered his outdoor PR. With the exception of his second-round effort, each throw brought a better result -- 62-10, 62-2 1/4, 64-3 3/4, 64-7 1/4, 66-5 1/2 and 68-5 1/4.
Clarke, a 2008 Bartlett High graduate who holds state records in shot put and discus, said he figured he was a few months away from 68 feet.
"That was a goal for the very end of the outdoor season," he said. "The last thing I thought was I was going to throw that far in the indoor season. I thought it would be 3 1/2, 4 months before I'd get there."
Now, he gets to reassess his goals for the outdoor season, because getting to the 68-foot mark was one of them.
"The next real goal," he said, "is to be consistent. If I start throwing 65 to 68 all the time at meets, 70 feet could be an achievable goal by the end of the (outdoor) season."
Clarke, 21, won the title by more than a foot over Jacob Thormuelen of Texas, who went 67-3 1/4 on his final throw. Third place went to Kemal Mesic of Florida, whose 67-0 3/4 was recorded in the fourth round.
Reach Beth Bragg at email@example.com or 257-4335.
By BETH BRAGG
Anchorage Daily News