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McEwen to compete in hammer at track trials

McEwen to compete in hammer at track trials

John McEwen is Ashland Univeristy's version of the Big Mac.

The assistant track coach at the Ohio school appears as solid as the golden arches. His confidence seems as plentiful as those orders of fries.

McEwen, a 6-foot-3, 245-pound former North Medford High athlete, hopes those qualities are a recipe for success in the hammer throw at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials.

The trials begin Saturday in Sacramento, Calif., but the hammer qualifying isn't until Thursday. The finals are July 21.

McEwen appears ready.

The last month and a half, everything has been good, says the a 1998 Morningside College (Iowa) graduate who starred in college in football and track and field. I feel like I'm going to peak perfectly for the trials. Every practice is the best practice of my life at this point.

Earlier this year at the Akron, Ohio, All-Comers Meet, McEwen threw 233 feet, 8 inches (more than 71 meters). Four times at that meet, he cleared 70 meters. And in a recent practice he was clearing 69 meters without a problem.

The mark ranks him ninth among trials entrants.

Consistency is a very good sign at this point, says McEwen. That means your base throws are at a very good level. The big one will eventually come.

McEwen considers a big one to be 248 feet. That's the Olympic A standard. Unlike the long jump, for example, in which the top three from the trials go on to the Olympics, in the hammer, that distance must be reached to move forward.

Just being third won't be good enough.

McEwen is one of three Ashland University track coaches who will compete at the trials. The others are training partner and fellow throwing coach Jud Logan and long jumper Sean Robbins.

Logan, in particular, is quite a story unto himself. At 41, he's trying to make the U.S. Olympic team for the fourth time, having competed in the hammer throw in 1984, ?88 and ?92.

Logan has been to the Olympic trials four times and the nationals nine times. In those 13 meets, he's never been outside the top three finishers.

His best throw this year is 245-2, the No. — mark heading into the trials.

Then you have McEwen, a veritable novice.

He threw the hammer for two years in college — when he could fit it in around football. He's thrown it full time for two years.

I'm an infant when it comes to the hammer, says McEwen.

In football, McEwen was a full-grown load. He was a linebacker at Morningside and earned first-team all-conference honors in the North Central Conference, a league that houses national powers like North Dakota State and North Dakota.

I always had football, he says. There was spring ball and then the season in the fall. I was kind of self-trained.

McEwen's linebacker mentality may serve him well as he makes his first trip to the trials.

I'm looking at this as just another meet, he says. I just have to throw and have fun. If you make it out to be more than another meet, you put undue pressure on yourself. That's when you choke.