Feature Friday: Mississippi State Is The Real #JavU

Several programs could lay claim to the moniker “Javelin U,” based on historical data.

Oregon has scored the most points (202) and won the most individual titles (9) out of any program in the event at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

Texas is tied with Southern California for the second most points in history (146) and captured seven event titles of its own. Plus, the Longhorns boast the current collegiate record holder in Patrik Boden, who heaved the implement less than eight feet shy of an entire football field 29 years ago (292 feet, 4 inches – or 89.10 meters for you metric folks).

Denham Patricelli gave Washington its 30th scorer (!) in meet history by finishing eighth at the most recent NCAA Outdoor Championships in Austin, Texas.

But, Mississippi State is the only #JavU.

It’s their brand. It’s their identity. It’s their lifeblood.

Take A Deeper Dive Inside #JavU

ANDERSON PETERS
APRIL THOMAS

“What other school has swept the jav?” asked Curtis Thompson, who finished runner-up in Austin this past June, flanked by teammates Anderson Peters (back-to-back champion) and Tyriq Horford (third place). “How many times have you had more than one 80-meter thrower on the same team? How many teams scored multiple athletes in the past five or six years? There are a lot of things we can go through.”

To answer Thompson’s questions individually: One, zero and zero. Mississippi State joined the 1964 Oregon Ducks as the only programs to lay claim to the top-3 spots on the NCAA podium; The Bulldogs are the only team in NCAA history with at least two athletes on their roster who eclipsed the 80-meter barrier. And they had three last year, for good measure (Peters, Thompson and Nicolas Quijera); Mississippi State is the only program to have multiple scorers in the javelin in each of the past three years and currently owns a streak of five consecutive years with an athlete in the top-3.

“I mean, I can’t take anything away from those other programs that we talked about (Oregon, Texas, et al), because they’ve done some amazing things – but this thing (#JavU) is how we’re portrayed,” said Thompson, the Bulldogs’ first NCAA champion in the event in 2016. “#JavU just kind of stuck for us. We walk around with that on our shoulders and love it.”

What does the architect of #JavU think about all of this?

“It’s definitely something that has caught on,” Mississippi State Associate Head Track & Field Coach April Thomas said. “When it first started to come about, I didn’t like paying attention to it, because it was more important that I had a training group that could make each other better. But it really took off recently and I’m glad it happened. Recruiting wise, it has helped a lot.”

There have also been noticeable changes throughout the rest of the team as #JavU found its footing and ultimately, its incredible success.

“When I got here in 2014, #JavU was the last thing on our minds,” Thompson said. “We just wanted to be competitive as a group and help put Mississippi State on the map. The goal has always been to win team titles and now you see guys in the 800 doing their thing like Marco (Arop), a couple of our sprinters really getting better and our women’s team showing out.”

One also can’t underestimate the importance of seeing familiar faces on top of the podium after international competitions, like where Peters stood following the NACAC U23 Championships in El Salvador and the Pan American Games in Peru.

Peters’ performance at the recently completed Pan American Games was nothing short of sublime. His first attempt, which Thomas said she knew was going to be big once she saw his timing connect, sailed 87.31m (286-5) to smash a longstanding championships record, set a PR by 2+ feet and move him up to No. 5 on the 2019 world list. Then his sixth attempt would have probably been marked farther, if it wasn’t for his right foot, which barely touched the foul line.

Next up for Peters is the 2019 IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar. Peters will open up competition on Saturday, October 5, hopefully accompanied by the final the following day.

No matter what happens 7,616 miles away – or 140,358 javelin throws – from Starkville, Mississippi, Peters should know he’ll have a strong support group behind him the whole way.

“I’m hoping he goes out there and gets a medal – for himself, for his country and for the people that are in his corner,” Thompson said. “I want him to show everybody how hard we’re grinding down here at #JavU and that all the hard work does pay off. I know it’s been a long season, but it would be great for him to be able to get out there and finish it off right.”