Mammoth throw makes UAA's Parker a national champ

Beth Bragg
Photo by Thomas Hillebrand

With a mighty grunt and an even mightier toss, javelin thrower Cody Parker became UAA's third national champion in track and field Saturday at the NCAA Division II championships in Pueblo, Colo.

Parker uncorked a monster throw that ranks as the second longest in Division II history and the third longest this season by a college athlete at any level.

On his second of three throws, Parker threw the javelin so far -- 255 feet, 10 inches -- most people didn't see where it landed, including UAA coach Michael Friess.

"It landed down in the embankment -- they had officials there that saw the landing, because they had moved well enough back," Friess said. "It was an amazing throw. Incredible."

Parker missed the Division II national record by three inches.

A sophomore from British Columbia, Parker's victory highlighted a strong meet for the Seawolves, who produced four NCAA All-America finishes Saturday to bring their meet total to seven and their all-time total, which dates back to 2006, to 38.

The Seawolves finished 1-3 in the men's javelin, with sophomore Franz Burghagen of Germany finishing third with a toss of 230-4, less than two feet away from second place.

Ruth Keino and Susan Tanui gave UAA a 3-4 showing in the women's 5,000 meters, a race that marked the end of Ruth Keino's UAA career.

Keino, a senior from Kenya, placed third in a time of 17 minutes, 11.14 seconds, two days after finishing third in the 10,000 to become an All-American for the eighth time. All-American status is bestowed on the top eight finishers at the national championships.

Keino and Tanui were part of a five-runner pack that broke to the front early. In the final 500 meters, they both chased down and passed the third-place runner.

"It was great to see them make that attempt to place as highly as they can," Friess said.

Tanui's fourth-place finish (17:12.78) came a day after she placed second in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Tanui, who still has one season of eligibility left in cross country and indoor track, is a seven-time All-American.

In Saturday's only other event involving UAA, Soldotna's Ivy O'Guinn placed 10th in the 1,500 meters (4:47.11).

The UAA women, who on Friday got a fifth-place performance from heptathlete Karolin Anders, placed seventh in the team standings with 29 points. Both the placing and the point total are program bests.

The men finished with 16 points, all of them coming in the javelin.

Parker, who was the top-ranked junior javelin thrower in Canada when he came to UAA last year, recorded personal bests on his first two throws.

He entered the meet as Division II's top thrower with a season-best of 234-4.2, recorded in April at a meet in Long Beach, Calif.

On his first throw, the javelin sailed 241 feet. His second went 255-10, a mammoth throw that landed three inches shy of the 1996 Division II record of 256-1, set by Kirt Thompson of Ashland.

"It's the second best in Division II history, it's the third best collegiate mark this season, it's the top throw in Canada this year and it'd be ranked No. 5 in the entire United States right now -- so yeah, that was one heck of a throw," Friess said.

Parker joins Micah Chelimo (5,000 meters last year) and David Registe (long jump in 2008) on UAA's list of national track and field champions.

Big things were expected from Parker when he came to UAA last year from Comox, B.C., and he has not disappointed. He was an NCAA All-American as a freshman a year ago, placing third at the national championships with a toss of 193-2.

Parker is one of Canada's top javelin throwers and a contender for the 2016 Olympic team.

"He's a special thrower," Friess said.