Peters defends NCAA javelin title, helps MSU take top three spots in event






Ben Portnoy



AUSTIN, Texas -- Mississippi State made history on Wednesday night at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, as sophomore Anderson Peters defended his national title in the javelin and led his teammates to the first sweep of the podium since 1964. 


MSU's Curtis Thompson and Tyriq Horsford joined Peters in taking the top three places in the javelin for the 11th sweep of any event podium in NCAA history. The most recent came in 2015 when Oregon claimed the podium in the men's 1,500 meters. The Ducks' 1964 squad is the only other trio to do so in the men's javelin, and that was before the implement was changed in 1986. MSU has won the national title in the event in three of the last four years. 


"That puts Mississippi State on the board, most importantly," MSU throws coach April Thomas said. "It couldn't have happened to a better group of guys. These guys work hard every day. They feed off each other, so it makes my job a lot easier. They're so good sometimes they don't need my help." 


Peters is the third MSU athlete to claim consecutive national championships. He threw a personal-best 86.62 meters (284 feet, 2 inches) to break his school, meet, and national records. The Bowerman candidate landed three attempts beyond 84 meters. He has thrown six collegiate all-time top-10 marks this year. 


Thompson closed his Bulldog career with another All-American performance. The 2016 national champion threw 78.43 meters (257-3) to finish second. Horsford started off slowly with a foul and a 70.97-meter (232-10) throw on his first two attempts. Sitting in sixth place, he vaulted to the bronze-medal position on his third attempt with a mark of 75.59 (248). 


"As far as the javelin's concerned, we were perfect," MSU interim head coach Chris Woods said. "We maximized the amount of points we could get in that event. That's a great way to start the meet off. Putting 24 points up at a national championship isn't easy. There will be several teams here that don't do that as a team, and we did it in one event group. 


"I've been on record several times saying I think April Thomas is one of the best throws coaches in the country. I'm proud and happy for her that she's able to experience this. There are very few coaches in the history of NCAA track and field that are able to sweep a podium. Being a strong female in a male-dominated area, I think it shows how special she is as a coach. I'm just lucky that she's on my team." 


On the track, two Bulldogs saw their decorated careers come to a close. Rasheed Tatham finished 20th in the 400-meter hurdles (51.28 seconds). He advanced to the NCAA Championships in every year of his career.  


Dejon Devroe, a national scorer indoors last year, earned second-team All-American honors with a 10th-place finish in the 800m (1:48.06). 


Junior Stephen Jones' incredible first season of steeplechase racing ended with a 21st-place finish. Jones was the Southeastern Conference runner-up and broke the school record in the event, which had stood since 1982. 




Rivera Jr. leads Ole Miss 


Sophomore John Rivera Jr. earned second-team All-America honors Wednesday with a 13th-place finish in the 800. 


Rivera, who is from Bradenton, Florida, ran the third-fastest first 400 in his heat, but he finished sixth in heat three at 1 minute, 49.03 seconds. 


Sophomore Waleed Suliman (18th, 3:48.02) and freshman Dalton Hengst (21st, 3:48.83) earned Honorable Mention All-American status after running in the men's 1,500 semifinals. Suliman was near the lead for the first 1,100 meters, but a surge led by a 53.62 from Arizona State senior William Paulson, who won the heat at 3:45.82, eventually took control of the race as Suliman fell off the pace. 


The race concludes two stellar seasons by Suliman and Hengst, who were part of the SEC cross country team title in the fall in addition to several key accomplishments during the indoor and outdoor seasons. 


Sophomore Allen Gordon took home Honorable Mention honors in the men's long jump in 17th place at 7.61m (24-11 3/4). 


Women's competition begins Thursday. Ole Miss' women's 4x100 relay team of Kelly Rowe, Jayda Eckford, Kaira Simmons, and Brandee Presley will kick things off at 7:02 p.m. live on ESPNU. 




Alabama's Kigen finishes second 


Alabama senior Gilbert Kigen burst from the pack in the last 400 meters to take second in the 10,000 on day one of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. 


Kigen ran with the front of the main pack throughout the race to keep pace through a multitude of lead changes. With one lap to go, he bolted to the front and went stride for stride with eventual champion Clayton Young from BYU. 


Kigen, who was seventh in the 10,000 at last year's NCAA Championships, posted a time of 29:18.10, less than two seconds off the win.  


On Friday, Kigen will run in the 5,000, senior Kord Ferguson will compete in the discus, and junior Shelby McEwen will compete in the high jump. 


Also Wednesday, junior Robert Dunning posted a career-best time of 13.60 in the 110 hurdles to finish ninth. 


Bobby Colantonio Jr., the only freshman among the 24 throwers who made up the men's hammer throw field, finished 16th (218-1, 66.47 meters).  


Ferguson was 17th and freshman Santiago Basso was 21st in the shot put. Ferguson posted a throw of 61-8.5 (18.81m), while Basso went 59-5 (18.11m). 


Women's competition will begin Thursday. Alabama has 17 women at the meet with 16 opportunities to score, the second most of any team at the meet, one behind Arkansas.


Ben Portnoy reports on Mississippi State sports for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @bportnoy15.


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