Australian thrower Julian Wruck has finished second in the discus at the US college championships, unable to defend his title from last year, but becoming the most successful Australian ever in the prestigious NCAA track and field championships.
Competing for UCLA where he studies philosophy, the 22 year-old threw 62.56m to finish 18cm behind winner Hayden Reed of Alabama, and was not satisfied with his performance.
“I’m quite disappointed. I would like to have thrown far. If I threw far and lost I would have been fine with it, but to throw poorly and lose, it’s just the worst way to do it. Especially in the last round.” said Wruck who has a season’s best this year of 65.01m.
The Brisbane-born athlete’s top effort came in the second round when he took the lead from Tavis Bailey of Tennessee. That looked to have the competition sewn up until the final round when Reed launched the winner. Wruck had a chance to respond but baulked on his first attempt at his final throw, then reset, had a second go, but a flat throw fell short.
“I was trying too hard, trying to throw too far, trying to spin too fast. My rhythm was off a bit and I wasn’t able to come back in the last two rounds.”
“The last few weeks have been a bit rough. We just had our with finals (exams) before getting here. It wasn’t optimal. I still got some training in but would have liked more rest and a little better training.”
Wruck has spent the last five years living in Los Angeles and was looking forward to finally heading back to Australia.
“I want to sleep in my own bed, have home-cooked meals. I haven’t been home in a year. It’s been too long.”
With his runner-up finish, Wruck closes out a stellar college career with two titles from 2011 and 2013, as well as a third 2010.
Two other Australians have won double US college titles, Pat Clohesy, the renowned coach of Rob de Castella, who bagged two titles over 3 miles in the 60s and Queenslander Katie Swords who won consecutive 10000m finals in the 90s.
Wruck, a finalist at the Delhi Commonwealth Games in 2010 as a 19 year-old, is eying a podium finish in Glasgow where he will have to contend with teammate and favourite Benn Harradine, the defending champion.
“There are really two main people, Harradine and Vicka Gowda. Of course other people always popup. If I can get up around 64/65 metres that will be up in the top few. A medal would be nice.” said Wruck.
Only, Harradine, the Australian record-holder with a mark of 68.20m, has thrown further than Wruck amongst Commonwealth athletes, with their personal bests from last year just 4cm apart.
India’s Gowda, the silver medallist from Delhi, has a best this year of 65.62m, along with 20 year-old Jamaican Fedrick Dacres Jamaica who threw 66.45m in March look to be the main contenders.
In other events at the college championships, Victorian Jordan Williamsz representing Villanova University and Queenslander Rorey Hunter (Indiana State) have progressed through to the final of the 1500m, while Indiana State’s Linden Hall, a former Australian junior representative from Melbourne, is through to a second consecutive women’s 1500m final.
The four-day championships, being held Eugene, Oregon, affectionately know as Track Town USA for its long track and field history, conclude on Saturday (Sunday AEST).