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Lenny Padilla | | May 23, 2014

Lavong hopes to lead Adams State to title

ALLENDALE, Mich. -- Carlton Lavong is an excitable person.

After the sophomore from Adams State pulled off the winning leap in the long jump on Thursday afternoon at the 2014 NCAA Division II Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships, he let out a yell. Then he jogged over to the nearby track and did a backflip.

“I did gymnastics for seven years,” said Lavong, who won with a leap of 26-feet, 6 1/4 inches (8.08). “So it’s a fluid motion for me to do a backflip. My brother yelled ‘8.08’ to me and I just kinda lost it for a second.”

His time, all conditions, is ranked No. 10 in the world according to the International Association of Athletics Federations web site.

It was an impressive day for Lavong, especially since he was under the weather.

“My stomach was just killing me,” Lavong said. “I was trying to not move around too much so I wouldn’t aggravate it.”

He was pretty happy to beat out Saint Augustine’s DeJon Wilkinson, who finished second with a leap of 25-9 1/4 (7.85).

“I went over 8 meters again,” Lavong, who won his conference meet with a leap of 8.08, said. “Once you do it twice, it feels more real than the first time. Especially at a big meet like this. And one of my real good friends, DeJon, who finished second, beat me in indoor, so I’m pretty happy.”

Joshuah Bass, from Indianapolis, finished third in the long jump with a leap of 24-9 ¾ (7.56m).

Justin Welch is great even when he doesn’t feel his best.

The thrower from Findlay won the men’s hammer throw with a toss of 229-1 feet (69.84m).

“I’m excited; very happy,” Welch, who transferred to Findlay from Georgia, said. “It’s hard to compare it to anything.”

“It was a little bit of an off day, but I was still able to pull off a good throw. I just didn’t feel completely ready. My training is to peak at the U.S. Outdoor Championships. So this was good practice for that.”

Welch, who also won the 2014 NCAA Division II indoor title, said the indoor crown was harder to win.

“Indoor was a bigger win,” Welch, who won the weight throw with a toss of 73-0 3/4 (22.27), said. “Because I was leading the whole competition and then in the last round, Zac Ball from Ashland, passed me. I was the last thrower and I got a chance to pass him on my last throw to beat him and I did it.”

Darien Thornton, of host Grand Valley State, finished second with a throw of 65.92, to tie a career high.

“I’ve got a good coach and a good program and they helped me out a lot. So when I buy into what they are teaching, everything falls into place.”

Welch and Thornton are familiar foes. They went to rival high schools in Ohio.

“Justin is a great thrower,” Thornton said. “I threw against him in high school and he set the state record at my home track. So Ohio has the good hammer throwers.”

After the first day of the decathlon, J. Patrick Smith of Chico State, led with 4,091 points. It’s a tight race after that with Tyler Grob of Saginaw Valley second (3,949), Cody Thomas of Alaska Anchorage third (3,929) and Theodore Elsenbaumer of Chico State fourth (3,915).

In the final event of the day, Johnnie Guy, of Southern Indiana, captured the men’s 10,000 meter run title in 29:33.31. The time is the seventh best in Division II this year, but it isn’t his PR. Guy ran a  29:29.67 at Hillsdale on April 24.

Michael Biwott of American International, finished second (29:43.41) and Aaron Dinzeo of California (Pa.), was third (29:50.49).