DES MOINES, Iowa — Nobody said Tim Glover’s 2011 NCAA javelin title was a fluke, but that didn’t mean the Illinois State junior wasn’t thrilled to prove it on Thursday with a repeat triumph in the NCAA Division I Track and Field Championships where fellow Redbird Brittany Smith took second in the hammer throw.
Glover, a University High School graduate, was only third after his first three throws, but he opened the finals with a gravity defying school record of 268 feet, which put him almost 7 feet in front of longtime friend Sam Humphreys of Texas A&M, the runner-up at 261-3.
Smith, whose old best was 222-10, made like a tornado in the throwing circle before unleashing a third-round 224-7 that landed behind the spotters marking each throw. Only Missouri Valley Conference champion Jeneva McCall of Southern Illinois could throw farther at 225-3.
Glover’s 268-0 is the farthest by an American this year. Only three American-born collegians have ever thrown farther. He narrowly missed the meet record of 268-7 and the Olympic “A” qualifying standard of 269-0. Next year he could join Stanford’s Bud Held and Texas’ Patrick Boden as the only three-time NCAA champions.
“I’ll come back (next year) throwing farther,” said Glover, whose previous lifetime best was 266-9.
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Glover opened with a toss of 241-0 and followed with throws of 247-5 and 235-3.
“I just had to recharge my battery a little bit,” he said. “I sped up and threw harder.”
Glover put such effort into his winning throw he fell near the scratch line, avoiding it by mere inches.
“After I looked up, I saw the bottom of it and it just kept carrying,” he said. “All day they’d been dying. That one, I knew it was a good one.”
Glover, who had two scholarship offers coming out of high school including one from Southern Illinois Edwardsville, concluded with respectable marks of 250-5 and 245-2.
“I like to say my arm gets better as I go on,” he said. “I grew up throwing every day as hard as I could.”
The 5-foot-10, 217-pound Glover was the smallest finalist.
“It’s kind of cool being the smallest kid out there,” he said. “You want to prove yourself and throw the farthest. Some people call me the smallest man with the biggest arm.”
Several hundred fans near the runway clapped in rhythm to inspire him.
“I really appreciate everybody coming out and supporting me,” he said. “It’s big for all athletes, javelin throwers especially.”
Smith, who had placed as high as third in the NCAA indoor shot put and weight throw, opened with marks of 220-10 and 221-7 before notching her best effort. In the finals, she threw 217-5 and 214-8 before finishing with a sector foul.
“Going into the week, I was a little nervous,” she said. “I was freaking out to my coach. I didn’t feel 100 percent. Then I started warming up and it just felt really, really good. Going into competition, it kind of clicked.”
Smith, ninth in last year’s NCAA hammer throw, appeared to be among the fastest spinners in the ring.
“There are some fast girls out there, but I felt really fast on the throws,” she said. “It’s kind of all a blur.”
SIU’s McCall was only an inch ahead of Smith heading into the finals.
“We have a really good conference (for throwing) and I think we don’t get looked at as much because we’re not big schools,” Smith said. “I wish I would have won. You always want to win, but I’m happy with how I did.”
Smith, who competes in the shot put Friday, has a history of producing personal records in big meets.
“Somehow that happens,” she said. “Hopefully, I can do that tomorrow, too.”