It’s been a consistent season for Utah State thrower Maia Garren, and she put together her best performance in her biggest meet.
The former Logan High star established a new personal record in the shot put Thursday at the NCAA West Preliminary Track & Field Championships. The four-day meet, which will conclude Saturday, is being contested at E.B. Cushing Stadium in College Station, Texas.
Garren uncorked a career-best throw of 52 feet, 8.75 inches on her second of three attempts, and placed 17th out of 48 competitors. The senior’s previous best mark was a 52-0.
The event was won by Iowa’s Laulauga Tausaga, who tossed the 8.8-pound round ball 58-11.5.
All three of Garren’s attempts went at least 50 feet and two of them exceeded the 51-foot barrier. Simply put, it was a good day for the former high school state champion in the shot put and discus. Garren, who was seeded 42nd, finished second in the first of four flights, plus she beat all but four athletes from the second and third flights.
“Setting a PR today meant more than words can say,” Garren said in a press release. “Coming into the meet, I had one goal and reaching it felt amazing. Because there are two rings going at the same time, and you only have three attempts, it can be stressful and distracting.
“I really learned a lot today on how to balance everything and focus on my performance. Breaking the 16-meter wall is just the start and I am already looking forward to next year.”
Indeed, the Aggies will be fortunate to have Garren back for a super senior season. The recent graduate is not done in 2021, though, as she will showcase her skills in Saturday’s discus. Garren, is ranks third in the Aggie record books in the shot put, is the No. 47 seed in that event (167-2).
A pair of Aggies were in action Friday before the storm clouds rolled into the Lone Star State. The men’s high jump, discus and triple jump took place during the afternoon, but all of the scheduled track events — 11 of them in total — were moved to Saturday.
USU senior Christian Sonnenberg broke seed in the discus by placing 38th with a mark of 170-3. Sonnenberg, who is from Germany, scratched on his first two attempts. He was seeded 46th.
Shot put champion Turner Washington of Arizona State captured another gold medal by handily reigning supreme in the discus (212-10). The sophomore was the only athlete to eclipse 200 feet.
USU’s Kyle Brost wrapped up his collegiate career by finishing 33rd in the triple jump. The senior and school record-holder in the event (51-3.5) soared 49-11.25 on his third and final attempt, which was 4.25 inches farther than his second attempt. Brost, who like Sonnenberg is a two-time regional qualifier, was seeded 29th.
Emmanuel Ihemeje of Oregon was the gold medalist with his leap of 55-8.5. It was a very competitive field as those competitors who placed fifth through 18th were only separated by 13 inches.
Aggie sophomore Camren Todd was supposed to compete in the 5,000 meters Friday night before the aforementioned inclement weather delayed the meet until Saturday. The all-Mountain West performer in cross country and outdoor track & field will be in action early Saturday morning.
Garren, who also qualified for this meet in 2019, is be one of four athletes that will attempt to qualify for the NCAA Championships for the Aggie women. Only the top 12 finishers in each event will advance to nationals.
Senior Michael Zilkey will join Garren in the discus field, graduate student Audrey Garrett will compete in the high jump and senior Katie Haviland will race in the 3,000 steeplechase.