Simeon Faagai (JR/Ponca City, Okla.) saved his best for last.
Competing in the weight throw at the Kansas Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships last month in Wichita, Faagai unleased his best throw of the season – 16.42 meters – and qualified for the NAIA National Indoor Championships by reaching the B Standard.
Faagai and seven teammates will represent the Coyotes in the national event Thursday through Saturday at Brookings, S.D. inside the Sanford Jackrabbit Athletic Complex on the campus of South Dakota State.
Faagai, who threw the discus in high school and is primarily a hammer thrower for KWU, was competing in the weight throw, which he says comes with the territory.
“A lot of times with hammer throwing comes the indoor version, the weight throw,” said Faagai, a transfer from Butler Community College. “The timing is completely different but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,”
That timing element involves the number of rotations throwers spin in the circle before launching the 35-pound weighted ball that’s attached to a chain.
“Throwers will rotate anywhere from one to four times to get max velocity on it so they can release it and get distance,” Faagai said. “(The chain) is a pretty short implement, fairly small compared to the hammer, which is probably about two meters long.”
There is a drawback, though.
“My main event is the hammer so sometimes it kind of gets my timing a little wobbly because it’s so much shorter,” he said.
Faagai is happy to be in the national meet but said his approach at nationals won’t be any different.
“Qualifying for indoor nationals wasn’t necessarily unexpected but I wouldn’t have been surprised if I didn’t qualify either,” he said. “We put the work in and it paid off so I’m just glad to make it.
“I try to be relaxed for most of the time that I’m not competing. Then heading into competition I’ll start to lock in a little bit, listen to music and get nice and warm and loose for competition. It usually helps that I’m doing something that I always do to get through the nervousness.”
Faagai has a goal at nationals but said he isn’t obsessed with it.
“More than 17 meters but I feel like thinking about the numbers directly can affect what distances you’re actually throwing,” he said. “I’m just going into this one thinking ‘let’s work, let’s do what I know how to do.'”
The weight throw competition begins at noon on Friday.
Other KWU qualifiers are:
COLE PARKER, SHOT PUT
Parker won the KCAC Championship and hit the NAIA A Standard with a throw of 16.03 meters at the Concordia Polar Dog meet in January. Parker qualified for the NAIA Outdoor Championships in the javelin last spring but the javelin, obviously, isn’t thrown indoors.
“Cole is one of the more versatile kids in the conference and the region,” KWU coach Kyle Hiser said. “He’s going in ranked in the top 15. Hopefully he can go there and get his feet wet the first time at the indoor national championships and use this momentum to go on to a really big outdoor season.”
Shot put competition starts at 2 p.m. Saturday.
ERYK KYSER, LONG JUMP
Kyser qualified for nationals at the KCAC Championship winning the event and meeting the A Standard with a leap of 7.18 meters.
He qualified for last year’s national indoor meet and will hit the starting line at 4 p.m. Friday.
“Eryk’s ranked ninth in the country so he’ll be in that final flight against some guys he’s competed against,” Hiser said. “He’s going to do his thing, make sure he’s not making the moment any bigger than it is. Having been there and been on the runway will be an advantage as he competes.”
MARK BENJAMIN, 60-METER DASH
Benjamin hit the B Standard qualifying time of 6.91 seconds in KWU’s first meet of the season, the Friends First Chance Qualifier, but has been slowed of late.
“He’s been battling a hamstring injury,” Hiser said. “He hit that standard pretty early in the year and then injuries have been nagging and not allowing him to train at the level that we hoped. He’s a talented individual and we’re just happy that he’ll be able to get there and run. Just get in the (starting) blocks and see what happens.”
Preliminaries are at 12:50 p.m. Friday, the finals 2 p.m. Saturday.
The group also qualified for nationals during the conference championships with a time of 7 minutes, 52.99 seconds. Team members are Will Griffith, Ty Davidson (SO/Lakin, Kan.), Julian Avila (SO/Manhattan, Kan.) and Giovanni Rios (SO/Temecula, Calif.) with Nick Martinez and Shane Calvin (JR/Lakin, Kan.) the alternates.
“That was the first 4×8 we ran all year,” Hiser said. “We knew on paper that they were going to be pretty strong, didn’t know how strong, and they put it together at that conference championship.
“We haven’t had a men’s distance relay since Coach (Garrett) Young was in college in 2017. It’s a group of all freshmen and sophomores, a young group and getting there is really going to fire them up. Use that momentum to build as they go into outdoor season.”