Saving the Best for Last: Andersen Becomes NCAA Runner-Up After Big Final Throw

NAU's Brooke Andersen (Photo Credit: Nate Barrett)
NAU's Brooke Andersen (Photo Credit: Nate Barrett)

EUGENE, Ore. – At a venue where so many historic moments have been made throughout the years, the focus today for Northern Arizona shifted to the field—specifically the hammer throw sector —where Brooke Andersen penciled her name into the school and conference record books at NCAA Division I National Championships.

Andersen—who had recorded at least one foul in every hammer throw event she competed at in 2017—bucked that trend and landed all six throws safely in the sector Thursday. After qualifying for finals with a plus-65 meter toss on her second attempt, Andersen mustered a personal-best 225-1 (68.62m) throw on her sixth and final toss of the day. With that mark, Andersen finished as the nation's runner-up and with first-team All-American accolades.

Here's what Andersen had to say immediately following her competition.

"I'm feeling great. I was almost going to cry when Coach Ott hugged me. This is what we've been working for all year. All the support I received from my coaches, other student-athletes and fans was just awesome all year long. The whole atmosphere…it was just crazy out there."

"Without a doubt," said Coach Nathan Ott, when asked if Andersen's competition was one of the more exciting ones he's ever witnessed as a coach. "For a student-athlete to throw that far is phenomenal, and she's just a junior. It's just a testament to how hard she works, staying determined, having big dreams and willing to pursue them. That's why I coach. Just to have that opportunity in that moment on the biggest stage she can compete on…it's huge."

Here are some other interesting facts regarding Andersen's debut at outdoor NCAA's:

  • By earning second-place today, Andersen recorded the highest finish of any Big Sky Conference athlete, men's or women's, in a field event since 2001
  • Andersen's second-place finish at nationals was also the highest of any Lumberjack athlete, men's or women's, in a field event since 1996
  • Andersen became the first women's hammer throw athlete in the history of the NAU track & field program to record first-team All-American honors
  • The redshirt-junior from Vista, Calif., became only the second athlete in Big Sky history to secure a first-team All-American accolade in the women's hammer

Additionally, Arizona State's Maggie Ewen, who came into the competition ranked No. 1 in America, won the national title with 240-7 (73.32m) throw. Meaning, it took a collegiate record-breaking throw from another athlete just to beat out Andersen today.

"Second-place almost really feels like first when you're matched up against the national record holder," said Ott. "To be in that mix is amazing. [Andersen] kept her head in the competition the entire time and made the proper adjustments. It was exciting to see and huge for her."