Having even one individual NCAA champion for any college track and field program is a major accomplishment.
UCLA has the unique opportunity to have three ““ all of whom come from the same section.
The UCLA men’s track and field throwing section is the strongest it has been in years, with redshirt freshman javelin thrower Derek Eager, sophomore hammer thrower Alec Faldermeyer and redshirt sophomore discus thrower Matt Kosecki all having a shot at individual NCAA titles in June.
At the Pac-12 Championships this past weekend, Eager placed third in the javelin while Faldermeyer and Kosecki both titled.
Faldermeyer is a three-time All-American and is currently ranked No. 4 in the nation. Kosecki, who was recently named UCLA/Muscle Milk Student-Athlete of the Week, moved into the top 10 of the NCAA this season after his title win at the Pac-12 Championships. Eager fills out the trifecta as one of four freshmen to break into the top 25 for javelin this season.
The winning combination of Faldermeyer, Kosecki and Eager has set an example of excellence for the rest of the team.
“The throwers are among the leaders of the team, they have a tight bond and they’ve led by performance and example,” coach Mike Maynard said.
Other than being poised to secure an NCAA bid at the preliminaries next weekend, Faldermeyer, Kosecki and Eager also share similar backgrounds.
All three are from out of state, with Faldermeyer hailing from New York, Kosecki from Texas and Eager from Washington.
However, UCLA has now become a home to all three.
“UCLA is the best academic school, it’s in a great area, it’s sunny. It’s my dream school,” Eager said.
In addition to UCLA’s prime location and climate, the team’s tight bonds foster a warm, family atmosphere.
“We’re all really close and that’s what makes our team so special,” Faldermeyer said. “We all push each other.”
With all three coming to UCLA from out of state, the bond was already tight, but the triad of throwers has more in common than many might think.
After their time at UCLA, they have Olympic aspirations and dreams of one day, after their athletic career, coaching the sport they love.
“It’s fun to see people improve and set personal records. I would love being a coach and getting to watch athletes improve,” Eager said.
Coaching, though, will have to come after their days on the field. All three have their eyes set on an Olympic berth in four years, but they know that in order to get there, it is vital to ride the highs and lows that come with throwing.
“(We need to) always keep working,” Eager said. “Even if you’re down and not doing well, you can always get back to where you were. All of us have had times where we haven’t been throwing well or haven’t been doing well in our events, but hang in there and you can get back on it. That’s the best feeling you can have.”
With an Olympic berth coming in the distant future, they are focused on the more pressing task at hand ““ qualifying for NCAAs and bringing home a title.
“I compete well when I’m with the best. I never like losing to anybody for anything,” Faldermeyer said.
All three of these throwers will get their shot at qualifying for the NCAA Championships next week in Austin, Texas, as they look to get to Iowa for the championships in June and bring home an unprecedented three individual titles.