Anchorage shot putter Jordan Clarke reached the promised land Saturday.
Clarke, a four-time NCAA champion at Arizona State, surpassed the 70-foot mark for the first time in his storied career at the Bart Templeman Throwers’ Meet in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
Clarke uncorked a throw of 70 feet, 1.5 inches, which is the sixth-best throw in the world this year. He’s the first Alaskan to throw beyond 70 feet, a benchmark distance in the shot put.
Clarke’s performance marked the second straight day that an Alaskan turned in a riveting track and field performance. On Friday, Kodiak’s Trevor Dunbar ran the fastest 5,000 meters by an Alaskan to finish third at the NCAA national championships.
No other Alaska shot putter has come close to matching Clarke, whose high school record of 71-3 has never been even remotely threatened (that record was set with a 12-pound shot, versus the 16-pound implement used in college and international competition).
Clarke’s previous best was 69-7, recorded May 24 in Tucson, Arizona. At the time, the mark was the eighth best in the world.
The big throws come about a year after Clarke injured the index finger of his throwing hand. The Bartlett High graduate nonetheless placed second in his final NCAA championship meet, but since turning pro, the injury has limited him.
“We weren’t sure if he would ever fully recover,” mother Christine Clarke said.
Clarke’s personal best before this season was 68-5.25. Hampered by the injury much of last year, things started clicking again this spring. On May 19, he tweeted that he recorded a training personal best — “Haven’t had one since before my tendon tear over a year ago!”
Clarke’s next competition is later this month at the national championships in Sacramento, California.
Anchorage Daily News