Wichita State’s Jamesia Milton likes to describe the hammer throw in simple terms.
“I have to start by explaining it’s an eight-pound ball on a wire with a handle,” she said. “I tell them that I just spin a lot of times and let it go. Usually, I just show people videos.”
There is more to it than that, of course, but what is most important is that she is peaking at the right time in the event.
On Friday in the Missouri Valley Conference outdoor championships, Milton finished second in the hammer throw with a distance of 205 feet, 8 inches, beating her school record of 202-4 set earlier this spring. Southern Illinois’ Freya Block won with a distance of 211-3 at Cessna Stadium.
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“It didn’t go as planned, but another school record — you can’t be mad at that,” Milton said.
A sore lower back bothered Milton, a senior from Duncan, Okla., for the past week. She has two weeks to rehab before the NCAA West Preliminaries starting May 25 in Austin.
“That makes it hard to finish the throw,” she said. “But that makes me excited, because once this is recovered I should have really good throws.”
Milton started throwing the hammer at Cowley College. Oklahoma doesn’t offer the sport in high school. At Cowley, she finished third nationally in 2013 and second in 2014. In high school, she loved the shot put. A few spins with the eight-pound ball on a wire changed her preference to hammer throw.
“It’s beautiful to me — kind of like being a ballerina,” she said. “You have to have that technique, the skill, the patience to throw the hammer.”
Milton came to WSU with a personal-best of 174-2 in the hammer. After redshirting in 2013-14, she broke out with a throw of 199 feet as a junior at WSU, ranking second in school history.
“She’s continued to improve, all the way up to today,” WSU throws coach John Hetzendorf said. “Hammer is an event of repetition. Once you’ve got it learned, you’ve got to do a lot of reps until it’s second nature. You’ve got to make something awkward normal. I don’t even know if you’d call it a throw.”
Milton will compete in the shot put on Saturday and the discus Sunday. On Friday night, she planned to attend an awards dinner for her clinical work in WSU’s communication sciences and disorders major. She will be honored for a research paper on autism communication. After a year off, she wants to attend WSU’s graduate school in speech pathology.
She baby-sat an autistic child while growing up in Oklahoma, which created an interest in the field. So did her own issues dealing with a speech impediment that made it difficult to pronounce vowels while in elementary school. Her father worked with special needs students. On Monday nights, she works with autistic children, as part of her clinicals, to work on social skills
“We make dinner, working on their social skills and etiquette skills,” she said. “It’s amazing. You learn something different every single week.”
Go time for Larch-Miller — WSU’s Nikki Larch-Miller went to bed Thursday not expecting to compete in the heptathlon. She ranks No. 15 nationally in the event with 5,551 points and the top 24 qualify for the NCAA Championships in June.
On Friday morning a leisurely day turned busy.
“I went from doing two events today to doing six,” she said.
Shocker coaches — and teammate Breanne Borman — looked at other performances on Thursday and saw athletes gaining on Larch-Miller. WSU’s plan to save her for Friday night’s 200-meter prelims and the javelin went into storage.
“This morning I got a call from (coach Steve Rainbolt) at 9:55 — multis start at 11,” she said. “He said ‘Hey I was talking to Bre and another girl jumped up. Now there’s seven girls that could potentially pass you, and that’s not including our three girls.’”
Twenty minutes later, Larch-Miller arrived at Cessna Stadium to start the day’s four heptathlon events with the 110-meter hurdles.
“We just didn’t feel comfortable,” Rainbolt said. “We would have been kicking ourselves if we had sat by and watched her get bumped off the list.”
Larch-Miller, a senior, finished the first day in first place with 3,412 points. She won the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 13.48 seconds and the 200 at 24.11 seconds.
“For a last-minute thing, it’s been going pretty well,” Larch-Miller said.
Borman is second with 3,362 points and teammate Gavyn Yetter is third at 3,294. WSU’s Martiesha Caines is fourth with 3,198 points. Borman, who tied Caines and teammate Sydney Wilson for first in the high jump at 5-5 3/4, is one of the teammates pushing for a spot in the NCAA meet. She entered the weekend No. 34 with 5,224 points.
Larch-Miller could withdraw from Saturday’s final three events if she feels safe with score of 5,551 after Friday’s scores from other conferences.
Sophomore wins pole vault — Wichita State sophomore Alesa Frey won the women's pole vault with a height of 13-3 3/4, a personal best. She is the first Shocker to win the event since Cassie Craig in 2012 with a height of 13-4 1/2.
Redbirds lead decathlon — In what is expected to be a strong event for the Shockers men, Illinois State is inserting itself into the decathlon after the first day.
Illinois State’s Jordan Wilkerson leads the event with 3,846 points. WSU’s Ben Johnson is second with 3,724 points, followed by Illinois State’s James Brandenburg (3,701) and WSU’s Kaden Griffin (3,675).
Johnson, who ranks second entering the weekend, won the shot put with a distance of 44-11 3/4. Griffin won the 400 with a time of 49.45.
Shockers dominate javelin — WSU’s Carlea Miles won the women’s javelin with a throw of 157-4. Teammate Aaron True won the men’s with a distance of 229-3.
Borman finished second in the women’s event (150-5) with WSU’s Kelsey Tenbrink fourth at 144-10. In the men’s, John Hoplin (210-11), Hunter Veith (182-2) and Kaden Griffin (179-11) followed True.
Hatch, Fischer win 10,000 — Drake senior Reed Fischer added the 10,000-meter title to his season that includes the MVC cross country title and indoor wins in the 3,000 and 5,000.
Fischer won Friday’s race with a time of 30:17.82.
Loyola junior Emma Hatch won the women’s race with a time of 36:23.39.
WSU leads standings — The Shocker women are off to a strong start in the team standings with 49 points after the first day. Northern Iowa and Southern Illinois are tied for second with 26.
The WSU men have 32 points, two ahead of Southern Illinois.
MVC outdoor championships
- 10:30 a.m — Multi-events
- 3 p.m. — Field events
- 5 p.m. — Running events
- 11:30 a.m. — Field events
- 1 p.m. — Running events
- 4:20 p.m. — Awards
Tickets: $6 (adults), $3 children and seniors, Free 3 and under
1. Wichita State 32
2. Southern Illinois 30
3. Northern Iowa 17
4. Drake 10
5. Bradley 9
6. Illinois State 7
T7. Loyola 6
Indiana State 6
1. Wichita State 49
T2. Northern Iowa 26
Southern Illinois 26
4. Indiana State 19
5. Missouri State 16
6. Loyola 10
7. Illinois State 6
8. Bradley 3
9. Drake 1