Curtis Thompson established himself as the No. 1 collegiate javelin thrower in the nation Thursday when he won the NCAA Division 1 title with a heave of 254-9 at legendary Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.
Thompson, a former New Jersey and national champion from Florence, is a sophomore at Mississippi State.
Thompson, ranked No. 2 among American men this year and No. 36 in the world with a PR of 265-10, upset world No. 26 IIoánnis Kiriazis of Texas A&M to win his first national title and earn All-America status for the second time. He was third at NCAAs last year.
“What a feeling,” Thompson said. “All the hard work has paid off. This is why you compete, to be an NCAA champion. That can never be taken away.”
Thompson is the first South Jersey boy to win an NCAA Division 1 individual title in 27 years, since Dennis Mitchell of Edgewood won the 200 for Florida in 1989. He’s the first to win any sort of national title in D-1 since high jumper Mike Morrison, another Florida runner, ran a leg on the Gators’ winning 400-meter relay team in 2004.
He’s also the fourth New Jersey boy ever to win the NCAA Division 1 javelin title. He was third last year with a 247-5.
In 1969, Arizona State sophomore Mark Murro, a graduate of Essex Catholic, won the javelin with a throw of 265-9 using the old implement. In 1978, Bob Roggy of Holmdel High , a senior at Southern Illinois, threw 283-8 to win gold. In 1981, Mike Justus of Hopatcong High and Rowan University won with a 273-2 throw. Justus was allowed to compete because back then Division 3 winners were added to the field in the Division 1 meet.
We put together what we believe to be a complete – or nearly complete – list of every South Jersey athlete to win an NCAA Division 1 national title. Including relay legs.
As you can see, Thompson is only the seventh South Jersey boy to win an individual gold medal at nationals, only the third since 1956.
There could be some omissions, especially among athletes from the 1940s and 1950s. Please let us know in the comments section if you find any errors or omissions.
Archie Harris, Indiana [Ocean City], Discus [162-4]
Browning Ross, Villanova [Woodbury], 3,000-Meter Steeplechase [9:25.7h]
Don Bragg, Villanova [Penns Grove], Pole Vault [15-1]
Charley Pratt, Manhattan [Palmyra], 220-Yard Hurdles [23.1]
Carl Lewis, Houston [Willingboro], Long Jump 27-4 3/4 [held indoors]
Carl Lewis, Houston [Willingboro], 100-Meter Dash [9.99]
Carl Lewis, Houston [Willingboro], Long Jump 27-0 3/4 [held indoors]
Dennis Mitchell, Florida [Edgewood], 200-Meter Dash [20.09A]
Mike Morrison, Florida [Willingboro], 400-Meter Relay 2nd Leg [39.11]
Curtis Thompson, Mississippi State [Florence], Javelin [254-9]
Carol Lewis, Houston [Willingboro], Long Jump [21-11 3/4]
Carol Lewis, Houston [Willingboro], Long Jump [22-1]
Denise Mitchell, Florida [Edgewood], 1,600-Meter Relay 1st Leg [53.8, 3:27.53]
Jamie Moton, Clemson [Delsea], Hammer Throw [220-6]
Nadia Davy, LSU [Bridgeton], 1,600-Meter Relay 4th Leg [50.3, 3:25.26]
Nia Ali [Pleasantville], 100-Meter Hurdles [12.63w]
English Gardner [Eastern], 100-Meter Dash [11.10]
English Gardner [Eastern], 100-Meter Dash [10.96]
Thompson is Mississippi State’s second NCAA champion in three years. In 2014, sophomore Brandon McBride won the 800 in 1:46.26. Since 1925, MSU has had only three NCAA Division 1 individual men’s champions
“I couldn’t be more proud,” Mississippi State coach Steve Dudley said. “What an awesome performance. He’s worked so hard to get to this point, and he’s only a sophomore.”
Thompson threw 230-3, 240-11 and 240-1 in the trials, which got him safely into the finals but had him sitting only sixth going in.
He threw 243-3 on his fourth throw and was still in only sixth place before he popped his 254-9 on his fifth throw. That gave him a four-foot lead over John Ampomah of Middle Tennessee State, who had thrown 250-9 on his first throw.
Then No. 1 seed Ioannis Kyriazis, whose best so far was a modest 243-6, stepped into the circle for his final throw and bombed one deep into the sector, toward Thompson’s mark.
As Thompson watched to see whether or not he would be an NCAA champion, Kyriazis’ throw was announced — 253-5.
Thompson had a national title by 16 inches.
For complete throw-by-throw breakdown for every competitor, click here. Rutgers sophomore Chris Mirabelli, a graduate of Rancocas Valley, a former Meet of Champs winner and Thompson’s long-time rival, finished 17th with a throw of 229-4, well off his PR of 240-3. Another New Jersey thrower, Midland Park’s Kaleb Zuidema of South Carolina, placed 20th at 227-5.