Story by Fred Stabbert III
GRAHAMSVILLE Ryan Loughney of Grahamsville trained rigorously, spent over $1,000, and traveled across the country only to come up short of his dream: becoming an Olympic athlete.
At the Olympic Hammer Throw Trials held at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon on June 21, Loughney finished 13th out of 24 with a distance of 222-5.
The top finisher, Kibwe Johnson, who threw a 245-11, is a close friend of Loughney’s. They were former training partners at Ashland University (AU) in Ohio.
The other hammer throw qualifier, A.G. Kruger, with a throw of 243-11, is Loughney’s current training partner at Ashland.
Although Loughney’s finish at his first Olympic Trials was less than ideal, it was an experience he will cherish forever.
“Nike HQ was unbelieveable. It was like a mini city.” Loughney remarked.
“It was a cool experience throwing in front of 2000 when the maximum I’m used to is about 500. Going to Oregon was expensive, but it was well worth it.”
Johnson, Kruger, and Loughney have all trained under AU’s head track coach, and four-time Olympian, Jud Logan.
Loughney, a physcial education major, hopes to become a coach himself one day.
“I love Ashland and training with Coach Logan. It is a great experience. I am able to do decently well in school and excel in athletics, which is what I set out to do,” Loughney said. “It’s everything I hoped it would be and more.”
Loughney and Kruger still train at AU, while Johnson has moved on to a Canada-based group.
This year will be Johnson’s first Olympic appearence and Kruger’s third. Kruger won the 2008 Trials and finished runner-up in the 2004 Trials.
Despite missing the 2012 Olympic hammer throwing cut Loughney remains optimistic.
“Throwers normally peak during their late 20s, early 30s,” Lochney revealed.
This statement has rung true for Loughney so far. He has improved with age. He threw his two longest throws ever in both the hammer and weight events just months ago at his current age of 22.
He has since foregone the weight to focus solely on hammer as hammer throw is an Olympic event and weight throw isn’t.
Loughney has been throwing since he was an 8th grader at Tri-Valley (where he still trains when he’s home from college), and this is not the first time he’s been faced with disappointment in his athletic career. He didn’t always squash his opponents like he has in the GLIAC, (Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) and all of Division II over the last five years.
“It took me a year and a half to two years to begin climbing up the ladder,” Loughney admitted.
“I never wanted to quit for good. There were times when I felt discouraged and wanted to give up during a given meet, but I knew if I did, I wouldn’t be able to acheive my goals.”
He kept at it, refusing to give up on his passion, and now he’s one of the most dominant collegiate throwers in the nation.
Loughney has not lost that determination and plans to keep working to better himself as an athlete so he maymake the Rio team in 2016.
“I hope to stay healthy enough to train regularly over the next four years,” Loughney noted. “It will take a lot more training and technical work to add the distance I need.”
Loughney intends to do as much throwing and weight training as his body can handle. During periods of heavy training he may take as many as 45 throws in a single session.
The Loughney file
• Participated at 2012 Olympic Trials, held June 21 at the Nike Complex in Beaverton, Oregon
• NCAA Division II national outdoor champion in hammer throw in 2010, 2011 and 2012
• NCAA Division II hammer throw record holder
• NCAA Division II national indoor champion in 35-lb weight throw in 2011, 2012
• Top American collegiate in NCAA Divisions I, II, III and NAIA in the hammer throw for the 2011 year
• NCAA Division II All-American eight times
• Midwest Regional Field Athlete of the Year in 2011 and 2012
• 2012 NCAA Division II Indoor National Athlete of the Year
• Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Indoor Athlete of the Year in 2012
• GLIAC outdoor champion in hammer throw in 2009, 2011 and 2012
• GLIAC Indoor Champion in weight throw in 2011, 2012
• Placed 14th at USA Championships 2011 and met the USA Championships ‘A’ Standard Qualifier
• Ranked No. 11 in the world for 35-lb. weight throw in 2011
• Ranked No. 7 in the World for 35-lb. weight throw in 2012
• 2008 World Junior Championships qualifier
• 2007 Caribbean Games champion
• Four-time USA Track & Field/ High School All-American