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Rivera Becomes National Champion In Weight Throw!


GRINNELL, Iowa – Nazareth senior Luis Rivera showed up on the big stage Friday, demolishing the field in the 35-pound weight throw at the NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships with a facility record toss of 20.45 meters (67 feet, 1 ¼ inches).  Rivera's throw was nearly five feet better than second place finisher, Tyler Burdoff of Baldwin Wallace (62 feet, 7 ¼ inches), and is also the sixth-best mark in Division III history.

"It's a huge accomplishment," said Nazareth Coach James Goss. "It's a true testament to how hard he's worked."

"It hasn't sunk in yet," Rivera said hours after his record-breaking achievement. "I wanted to make school history and bring excitement to the purple and gold."

The Rochester native entered the meet as the top overall seed after notching a heave of 19.97 meters (65 feet, 6 ¼ inches) set at the Bomber Invitational on Feb. 6, which was also the previous school record. It wasn't until Rivera's fifth of sixth throws Friday that he hit the eye-popping mark.  His third throw was 19.39 meters, while his second-best throw came on his final attempt at 19.92 meters.

"My expectations were high," Rivera said. "I've been very motivated since last year. Track and field has consumed me to where it's the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning and the last thing I think about before I go to bed at night."

"He just continued to get better and better," Goss said. "He bought into all the coaching and the weight lifting and watching video to get better."

By winning, Rivera is the Golden Flyers' first-ever track and field national champion. He joins diver Kama Grattet (1984, 1985), swimmers Kim Schneider (1993) and Emily Lesher (2007) and tennis sensational Toshimi Sugimoto (1992, 1994) as individual national champions at Nazareth.

Rivera becomes an All-American in indoor for the second consecutive season.  As a junior, Rivera placed sixth at the NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships in Winston Salem, NC with a then school-record heave of 19.29 meters (63 feet, 3 ½ inches).  He also delivered in the spring outdoor season, taking eighth place in the hammer throw at the NCAA Championships in a school record of 58.58 meters (192 feet, 2 inches).

Nazareth senior Tom Sippie also competed for the Golden Flyers Friday in the 400-meter dash and finished 11th (:49.24) and failed to qualify for Saturday's finals.

Utica junior Nicodemus Gambill competed in two events for the Pioneers on Friday. He placed 11 th in the preliminaries of the 60 meter dash with a personal record and a new school-record of 6.90. Gambill also qualified for nationals in the 200 meter dash and finished first in the second heat of the 200 meter prelims with a time of 21.99, but was unfortunately disqualified after review for taking more than three steps outside of his designated lane during the race. 

St. John Fisher College sophomore Peter Girardi failed to advance in the 60 meter hurdles with a 14th place finish in the prelims and a time of 8.30. Sophomore Mark VanMarter finished 15th in the long jump with a leap of 6.22 meters.