MINNEAPOLIS-- The Upper Midwest Athletic Conference held their 2017 Outdoor Track & Field Championship on Saturday at St. John's University. Grahm Johnson made North Central and UMAC history in the discus and shot put in his first college championship event.
Grahm Johnson (Red Wing, Minn./Red Wing) opened his first trip to the UMAC Outdoor Championships on Saturday with an impressive showing. After reaching the finals with a throw that broke the previous conference discus event record, he twice extended the mark in the finals en route to winning the event.
Having already secured the event title before his final throw, Johnson stepped into the ring and unloaded a toss of 48.82 meters that broke the previous meet record of 46.24 meters set in last year's meet by Jeremy Peterson of the College of St. Scholastica (Duluth, Minn.). Of his six attempts on Saturday, Johnson's shortest effort would have still produced an event victory by nearly a half meter. He won the event by nearly six meters.
Having been the favorite in discus all season, Johnson came into the shot put seeded second. It was a tight competition through the prelims with the top three marks within 10 centimeters, including Johnson's top distance of 15.11 meters.
He improved upon his mark in the second throw of the finals with a distance of 15.34 meters, a personal best by 4 centimeters. Though the second place finisher, Thomas Udenberg posted an effort of 15.22 in his final effort, Johnson's top distance remained the best mark for the day to earn him his second conference title.
With his pair of event titles on Saturday, Johnson became the first NCU athlete to win a throwing event championship at the UMAC meet. His conference record in the discus is also the first field event record an NCU athlete has posted. It is the first time an individual Ram has posted UMAC record mark since Blake Johnson won the men's 5000m in 2003.
"I'm blown away by what Grahm accomplished today." Head Coach Trey Meadows stated. "He is not a demonstrative guy but when he unleashed that final throw in discus finals, every fan and athlete knew we witnessed something awesome."
Meadows also believes that an impressive discus performance should not overshadow what Johnson accomplished in the shot put ring.
"It's one thing to win discus when you're the favorite and you know you just need to execute. He could have been satisfied with what he did in discus when things got tight in shot put. But he showed a level of focus and competitiveness, as a freshman, that is a tribute to his character and the development time put in by Coach Ehlers, his high school coach at Red Wing."
Johnson is currently ranked 18th in the NCAA in the discus, with the top 20 qualifying for the Division III National Championship meet. The qualifying window for the national meet closes on Thursday, May 18 with qualifying athletes being notified the next day.
Johnson is also currently ranked third in the NCAA Division III central region, which would earn him the first USTFCCCA All-Region award in Rams program history. The top five athletes in each event are named to the all-region team.