Record day for Tiger thrower
By CONOR NICHOLL
In the fall of 2011, Fort Hays State University's Max Alonso tore his pectoral muscle while bench pressing. The severe injury required surgery, forced Alonso to rehab for the next year and was one of several obstacles for the senior.
Helped by throwing coach Dr. Andreas Maheras, Alonso bounced back and threw 58.16 meters (190 feet, 10 inches) to set the school and MIAA record at the league meet Saturday at Lewis Field Stadium. Alonso was more than eight meters ahead of all but one thrower.
"It was really, really hard work," Alonso said. "I remember when I was hurt and coach walked through my apartment and say, 'We are going to get out of this together. We are going to fight together through this.' He really helped me out to get back on track and also qualify for nationals."
Alonso's previous best this spring was 173-9, which stood ninth in NCAA Division II and fifth in the conference.
"You can call it a comeback," Maheras said.
However, the left-handed Alonso, the only southpaw in the finals, benefited from a strong northeast wind that was perfect for left-handers. His throw moved him to No. 1 nationally.
"For once in his life, he had a very good wind when it mattered," Maheras said.
Alonso broke the conference mark of 189-9 set by University of Central Missouri's Jeff Kremer in 1998.
Alonso broke his own school mark of 190-3 set in 2011.
"When you work hard, you get the pay off later on in life," Alonso, from Chile, said. "I am really happy. ... It is really, really cool to give this to coach."
Alonso, a transfer from Barton Community College who owns the Chilean national record in the discus, rehabbed all through last year and competed unattached for the Tigers last spring to save eligibility for 2012-13.
In May of last spring, Alonso threw his personal best of 60.23 meters, but the mark didn't count for FHSU or Division II.
"I love the U.S.," Alonso said. "I think that it is my second home. I learned so much out of you guys. I am blessed to be here in North America. You guys gave me the opportunity to compete at a really high level and also have a great education at Fort Hays State University. I am really blessed to be here."
Alonso, 26, has competed often on the international stage and nearly qualified for the London Olympics for Chile.
After this spring, Alonso is looking to throw professionally -- and stay clean -- with Maheras. Alonso has a goal to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
"He is a great coach," Alonso said. "I always tell everyone that I am proud of my coach, and I am proud that he is a doctor in biomechanics. He is incredible. I always say that he is one of the best coaches around the world. He show me the technique and people see me throwing in other countries, and they say I have great technique. I am proud that I don't take steroids to get through big achievements. I am competing with my body."
Alonso had some nagging pain through the last several months, but still finished fifth in the indoor shot put to collect his third All-American honor. Alonso didn't finally feel healthy until a month ago. Because of the weather, though, Alonso hasn't been able to compete with a full schedule. This spring produced some more frustration and the No. 5 seed entering Saturday - a low ranking by Alonso's standards.
"He was supposed to be No. 1, so that is not a pleasant thing," Maheras said.
Maheras said Alonso hasn't "gotten particularly stronger or bigger," but the senior's technique has improved significantly.
On Saturday, Alonso set the mark on his first throw. He let out two joyful yells, one as he walked out of the ring, and another as he went out to the field to retrieve the implement. However, Maheras thought Alonso could have thrown 61 to 62 meters.
"The technique wasn't very good," Maheras said. "Actually, it was not. It wasn't a bad throw, but not what I have seen him throw before. Even this last Thursday, we were practicing over here two days ago."
Alonso never beat the first mark, but threw 57.66 on his last throw. Still, he wore a big smile after the competition.
"I just knew that it was going to be a difficult day, because of the weather and I was having to fight through the throw," Alonso said. "That was the reason why I warmed up really well to throw my first one really well. Then, I came back and tried to work through the competition, but being honest, I was feeling tight. This kind of weather kind of killed me."
Later Saturday, sophomore Cory Keehn won the 10,000-meter run in 31 minutes, 35.70 seconds.