Ashton Riner’s javelin title highlights BYU women’s first day of NCAA championships
BYU’s Ashton Riner competes in the javelin throw on the first day of the NCAA women’s outdoor track and field championships, Thursday, June 9, 2022 in Eugene, Oregon. Riner’s winning throw of 191-1 won the Cougars’ first field title since 1992. (BYU Photo)
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PROVO — Ashton Riner brushed her fingers over her preferred javelin, basted it in her 5-foot-9 frame, and took one long look down field at the newly renovated Heyward Field.
With one run, a flick of her wrist, and all the power she could muster from her elbow forward, the BYU javelin thrower spun a first-time throw of 191 feet, 1 inch to open the second flight of the NCAA national championships in Eugene , Oregon.
She never surpassed that throw, finishing with marks of 187-1, 192-7, 177-4, and 176-9 on the remainder of her six attempts. But Riner, whose husband Lane Lunt plays tight end on the BYU football team, didn’t have to, either.
Riner’s throw of 58.24 meters (191-1) stood the rest of the evening, and no one else could top it on the way to her first career javelin championship.
“Ashton demonstrated tonight why she was the No. 1 ranked javelin thrower in the nation,” BYU director of track and field Ed Eyestone said. “She took the lead in dominant fashion on her very first throw and was never challenged. I’m so happy for her and coach Arrhenius, who with his three javelin entries has become one of the top javelin coaches in the country.”
Nebraska’s Maddie Harris finished second to Riner with a throw of 189-3, followed by North Carolina’s Madison Wiltrout in 185-3. Southern Utah transfer Alexis McAllister, who now competes for BYU, finished 18th with 166-4 throw.
Four years after debuting with BYU in spectacular fashion, Riner finished the job at historic Heyward Field to clinch BYU women’s first field title since 1992. The junior from Connell, Washington, burst on the scene as a true freshman in 2018, finishing 11th at the NCAA outdoor championships with a throw of 50.25 meters (164-10) to earn second-team All-America honors.
Riner is the first BYU field athlete, men’s or women’s, to win a national title since her throws coach Niklas Arrhenius did so in 2007.
“I’m super proud of Ashton,” said Arrhenius, who was in Eugene to coach Riner’s championship run. “I always felt that she had this capacity, so it’s amazing that she’s been able to have this great year, stay healthy, and be able to win this championship.”
Riner’s individual title leads BYU after the first day to a tie for sixth place with 10 points, 8 points behind leader Arizona State. Virginia Tech, Nebraska and Florida have 14 points each in a tie for second, followed by Cal with 12. BYU is tied with Ohio State, Alabama and Louisville in sixth.
BYU’s Ashton Riner competes in the javelin throw on the first day of the NCAA women’s outdoor track and field championships, Thursday, June 9, 2022 in Eugene, Oregon. Riner’s winning throw of 191-1 won the Cougars’ first field title since 1992. (Photo: BYU Photo)
Courtney Wayment finished the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 9 minutes, 41.21 seconds, the fourth-best time of the day in Thursday’s semifinals. That’ll book a spot for the reigning 5,000-meter indoor champion in Saturday’s finals, which she’ll contest at 3:54 pm MDT on ESPN.
Wayment’s teammate Lexy Halladay wasn’t so lucky, finishing in 10:31.38 for 11th place in her heat and 23rd overall.
In the women’s 10,000-meter run, Utah Valley’s Everlyn Kemboi capped her first appearance at nationals with a 12th place finish in 33:41.50 and second team All-America honors. Wolverine teammate Hannah Branch added a 17th place finish in 33:49.23, while BYU’s Aubrey Frentheway was 22nd in 34:31.59.
BYU’s Claire Seymour was pushed out of the 800-meter qualifying in Thursday’s semifinals, falling back in the final 110 meters before finishing fifth in her heat in 2:04.91. Last year’s fourth-place finisher, Seymour, who is also the reigning NCAA indoor runner-up in the same event, finished 18th overall.
Utah’s Josefine Eriksen finished in 2:09.67 for 24th place in the 800 meters.
Thursday also wrapped up the second day of competition in the men’s decathlon.
Dallin Vorkink opened the second day of the decathlon with a 15.33-second finish in the 110-meter hurdles. He then added a 138-foot, 10-inch throw in the discus — a fifth-place finish that momentarily vaulted him from 20th to eighth with three events remaining.
The junior added a clearance of 4.91 meters (16 feet, 1 1/4 inches) in the pole vault — tied for the best mark of the event, second overall based on number of attempts — and 54.97-meter throw (180-4) in the javelin heading into the final event.
But Vorkink saved his best for last, pushing through to top Kansas State freshman Emil Uhlin by over a second to win the 1,500-meter run to cap the 10-event specialty and propel him to 11th place overall. The BYU junior posted a final time of a personal-best 4:22.92 en route to second-team All-American status.
Vorkink finished with 7,592 points over the two-day multi-event decathlon, 865 behind champion Ayden Owens-Delerme of Arkansas. Texas’ Leo Neugebauer and Georgia’s Kyle Garland each finished in the top three.
The men’s competition continues Friday night on ESPN2, in addition to BYU’s Halley Folsom Walker competing in the women’s heptathlon on ESPN3. The women’s competition wraps up Saturday afternoon on ESPN.
Sean Walker graduated from Syracuse University and returned to his home state to work for KSL.com covering BYU, prep sports and anything else his editors assign him to do. When he’s not covering a game, he’s usually listening to Broadway soundtracks or hiking with his dog.