STORRS–When Chris Keegan was a freshman at Hall High School, he watched a volunteer assistant coach on the track pick up a disc and accidentally throw it.
“He threw a bomb of 150 or 160 [feet]throwing in my running shoes, and I didn’t even try and I said, ‘I want to do it, that’s cool. That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen,’ Keegan said. ‘Since then, I’ve wanted to keep throwing.’
Keegan, of West Hartford, kept throwing. He’s now a graduate student in education at UConn and won his second Big East hammer throw title in his final throw (59.22 meters or 194 feet, 3 inches) on Friday morning at the Big East Track and Field Championships.
“Today was crazy — winning it in round six,” he said. “I was second in the whole competition. Until the last throw, which was probably one of the most stressful throws of my life. My fifth round wasn’t very good. I was like, ‘Okay, I know what to do, I need to put it together. Third place in the conference and I’m thinking, “I’m second now. I don’t lose this at home. “
After Friday’s events, UConn’s men led the team scoring with 101.5 points and the women were also in the lead with 72 points, with Villanova close behind with 59. The tournament will continue on Saturday at UConn’s George J. Sherman Family Complex.
Keegan, who also won the Big East title in weight throwing this year, was on the team as a sophomore. He was a lead bowler and discus thrower at Hall High but didn’t throw the hammer until the CIAC Hammer Throw Championship at the end of his freshman year. He didn’t make it to the finals but something about the event piqued his interest.
“I wasn’t really even a great grappling or discus player [in high school]’ He said. ‘I worked really hard at it, which is why I was able to get the attention of college because they saw how far I’d progressed through my high school career, so they thought maybe this guy could turn into something as a college athlete and that’s what he ended up with. “
He went to Sacred Heart for a year, then moved to UConn, where he decided to major in hammer and throwing.
“With my background in Olympic weightlifting – it was a natural occurrence for me,” he said. “I came on a walk. I had to try. They took me to the coaching staff in the fall to see how I could progress. In my sophomore year, I narrowly missed the final in the AAC. That was a huge motivator. I wanted to go back and prove that I could score points. “.
He kept improving his freshman year, then COVID-19 shut down college sports. UConn didn’t have an indoor season last year, but the Huskies had an outdoor season and Keegan won his first Big East title.
Friday, throwing just under his season best (59.55 metres). His personal best throw is 63 metres, compared to last year, but this semester, he was a student studying, and that took a long time.
It was a lot of hard work and long nights, but it was all worth it,” he said.
Now Keegan will wait to see if he makes the NCAA. He’s 59th on the list and only 48 will go so it may be an off chance unless 11 contenders drop out.
But he is happy with his college career if it ends this weekend.
“Not bad for walking,” he said.
Ocon junior Travis Snyder defended his pole vault title at the Big East on Friday with a jump of 5.15 meters (16 feet, 10-3/4 inches). “I’ve had a good season,” said Snyder, who is from Saco, Maine. “Tough start kind. We are training hard to reach the peak at the end of the season. It’s coming.” …The other winners at UConn are Mikaela Rodgers in hammer throw (60.22m), Colin Winkler (javelin, 65.48m), Emma Chee (jumping Pole, 4.15m), Richmond Coating (long jump, 7.42m), Daniel Claxton (high jump, 2.12m) and Mia Nahum set a conference record in the 3000m hurdles (9:52.81).
Lori Riley can be contacted at [email protected]