Before Pittsburg State senior Garrett Appier entered his final few throws in the shot put on April 23 at the Dewey Allgood Invitational in Rolla, Missouri, he needed some motivation from friend and teammate, Bo Farrow.
Since Appier arrived at Pittsburg State from Paola (Kan.) High School five years ago, he has always been self-motivated. Appier not only wanted to be a national champion in the shot put, his ultimate goal was to qualify for the Olympic Trials.
His desire to be the best had already garnered him a NCAA Division II national title in the shot put in the spring of 2015 and he followed that by winning the Division II indoor title in the shot put on March 12.
“If you are going to do something, you might as well try to be the best at it,” Appier said.
Appier probably gained some of that competitive fire from his dad, former Major League pitcher Kevin Appier, who played 13 of his 16 years in MLB with the Kansas City Royals, winning 169 games and striking out 1,994 batters.
Of course, growing up the son of a former All-Star pitcher wasn’t on Appier’s mind when he was set on producing throws that would gain him a trip to the Olympic Trials. Farrow helped pump him up.
“On my sixth throw, I said a little prayer please let me hit it one time and out it came,” Appier said last Tuesday.
His prayer and the hard work he put in resulted in a Division II outdoor record toss of 67 feet, 4.75 inches. The throw put him on the Olympic Trials A Standard qualifying list. The track and field Olympic Trials will be July 1-10 in Eugene, Ore.
“I have been kind of shell shocked since it happened,” Appier said. “I have gone for it all year. I really was hoping to get it. I wanted the indoor record before, but it escaped me. When I got it, I couldn’t believe it.
“I’d say the first national title was the most excited I have been because I really wanted it so bad. The second one, was more like a building block. I really needed to do this in order to try to get where I wanted to be, which was the Olympic Trials. The throw I got the record was probably equal to the first time I won a national title. It was so big in going towards my dream.”
That one throw earned Appier several honors. Last week, he was selected U.S Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Division II athlete of the week and Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association Field athlete of the week.
“I think a lot of what he has done is because of consistency,” Pittsburg State assistant track coach Brian Mantooth said. “He is more consistent at practice. We haven’t had any major downfalls with injuries, bad meets. It is all about consistency.
“Anytime you can be consistent, you give yourself an opportunity to have a big throw. If you are all over the board, throwing 58 feet one meet and 64 the next meet, bouncing all around, it is hard to be consistent. Consistency is the biggest key right now.”
Appier is now showing he is consistent at breaking his record. As amazing as his throw was on April 23, Appier topped it six days later at the Bill Williams/Bob Laptad Invitational at Missouri Southern on Friday.
All Appier did was post the sixth-best throw in the world for 2016 with a toss of 68-2.5, nearly eight feet more than his national title-winning throw from a year ago.
“Yes, Garrett is having a lot of success, but he does everything for the team. Everything here is for the team,” Mantooth said. “We have a great tradition. We try to honor that everyday doing what we do. Excellent things are going to happen because we keep that rolling.
“I was fortunate to be an athlete at Pittsburg State. I hope to get my athletes to understand what it is like to be an athlete here at Pittsburg State.”
Appier truly understands what it means to be a student-athlete at Pittsburg State. His love for the shot put grew with each passing year.
Before the start of his junior year at Paola, Appier was more interested in football. Track simply gave him something to do in the spring. It all changed in his senior year when he won a state title in shot put. He knew track could take him places.
So much has changed for Appier since he first arrived at Pittsburg State.
“I never thought I would graduate, but now that I am about to, it is hard to wrap my mind around it,” Appier said. “I am thankful for all the help.”
Appier is currently focused on the MIAA Championships, May 6-8 at Northwest Missouri State and then the Division II Outdoor Championships May 26-28 in Bradenton, Fla.
After trying to win another national title, Appier will spend the month of June getting ready for the Olympic Trials.
“He is super excited,” Appier said of his dad. “He is making plans to get there.”
Texas A&M-Kingsville looks ready for Lone Star Outdoor Championships
Senior Jeron Robinson is one of many track athletes for the No. 3 ranked Texas A&M-Kingsville ready for the Lone Star Championships May 5-7 in Stephenville, Texas.
On April 23, at the LSU Alumni Gold meet, Robinson took first with a national qualifying jump of 7 feet, 3 inches in the men's high jump. His top jump so far this year is 7-5.
Like Appier, Robinson is one of the best in Division II history at his event. He owns the Division II outdoor record of 7-7, which he accomplished last year. Overall, he owns three of the four best jumps in Division II outdoor history.
Achieving in the classroom and in track
Grand Valley State distance runner Ethan Barnes earned a high achievement Friday when he was a recipient of the 2015-16 Winter Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Commissioner’s Awards.
The awards are presented after the Fall, Winter, and Spring athletic seasons to six female and six male student-athletes that excel both in the classroom and on the fields of play. All grade-point averages are based on a 4.0 scale.
Barnes was twice named a USTFCCCA All-American for finishing third in the 800 meter (1:49.09) and eighth as a member of the Distance Medley Relay (9:52.23), giving him five All-America finishes for his career during the indoor season. Barnes was also a three-time All-GLIAC First Team recipient for placing first in the 800 meter (1:54.98), Mile, (4:18.73) and Distance Medley Relay (10:01.31), giving him eight total All-GLIAC honors during his time as a Laker during the indoor season. The junior was also named a USTFCCCA All-Midwest honoree for 2015-16, giving him two for his indoor career. Barnes currently holds a 3.91 GPA with a major in Integrated Sciences.