There is no question that Virginia Tech’s Marcel Lomnicky, and his sister, Nikola Lomnicka of Georgia, have successfully made the transition from half loops back home in Nitra, Slovakia to hammer throws in the United States. Each has won NCAA titles in the hammer throw since arriving here, but never have they done it in the same year.
They will try again this week in Des Moines when they go for their respective titles during the NCAA outdoor championships.
“It is something we’ve talked about doing,” Lomnicka said. “But things just didn’t work out last year.”
For the dual titles, that is. Lomnicka’s bid was successful as she enters this year as the defending champion. Marcel, one of the nation’s best men competitors, was hampered by injury and placed third.
|Keep tabs on the DI Outdoor Track & Field Championships|
|Live Video Schedule|
|Participants & Heat Sheets|
“I broke my ribs two weeks before the championships,” said Lomnicky (last name spelled differently as a nod to their culture). “I was doing very good at the Florida Relays. Then two weeks after that, it got so bad I couldn’t breath. I didn’t do anything before [last year’s] championships. No throwing. No lifting. I didn’t have anything when I got there.”
And with Lomnicky out of outdoor eligibility after this year, this is their last chance.
“We joked about it last year,” Lomnicky said. “I didn’t think we’d pull it off. I’m just glad we have this year. We’ve got a great chance, but her competition is stronger. I hope we can do it together.”
Choosing this sport was not something they planned. It was borne more out of their familiarity with the movements, their proximity to facilities, and a process of elimination. They went from gliding around on ice to putting their opponents on ice in track and field.
“When we were young, we were figure skaters,” Lomnicky said. “We used to do the motion of turning on ice all the time. We use pretty much the same motion with the hammer.
“No one in our family did this. But our house in Slovakia was close to the track and field stadium. We played there as kids. We tried out all the sports and nothing worked for us. We tried out all the equipment and the last thing there was the hammer. It was the last thing in the locker room. We had no coaches, but we were good at it.”
Lomnicky is still very good at it. This season he won his third consecutive ACC hammer throw title (248-10, 75.84m), setting a new school record and a new all-time ACC record. He beat the previous mark set by former Hokie Spyridon Jullien in 2005. Lomnicky has been at the top of the NCAA performance list all season as one of only two competitors in the nation to throw past 70 meters (the other is teammate Alexander Ziegler). This is third time at the NCAA Championships, having won a title in 2009 and finished third in 2010, despite a rib injury. He was named the 2011 USTFCCCA Southeast Region Men’s Field Athlete of the Year during the outdoor season.
Lomnicka also has been on top of her game since she arrived at Georgia. And she is grateful for a shot at repeating as champion given the start of her season. She is coming off of an ACL injury suffered on the second day of fall practice that forced her to redshirt the indoor season – a killer blow considering she was an indoor All-American in the weight throw last year and runner-up in the event at the 2010 SEC Indoor Championships.
“I was just doing power skips,” Lomnicka said. “I wasn’t doing anything crazy. It was in warm ups and my knee gave out. I tore my ACL and a little of my MCL. Nothing hard at all. In no way was I expecting that.
“I was back throwing the hammer again at the end of February, but I was pretty frustrated. I was thinking I was not going to be able to throw far. But I’m better and stronger that I was before I got injured. I have gotten better every week and the knee is completely fine.”
That has helped her have another strong season that included a second consecutive SEC hammer championship. Overall, the Lady Bulldogs have won five of the last seven SEC hammer titles and earned All-America certificates in the event six out of the last eight years.
Lomnicka is No. 2 on Georgia’s all-time top-10 list in the hammer throw (219 feet, 6 inches at a meet in Hungary last year). She is No. 2 in the school record books in the weight throw indoors (67-6.75 during the 2010 season).
The only thing left to accomplish collegiately is another title, one she goes for on Friday. And by then she will know if she and her brother can pull off the rare double.
“I hope we can do it,” Lomnicka said. “My technique is coming around and I really had a good week last week. I want to have one more week like that [in Des Moines].”