Cantwell, Finley Round Out Downtown Shot Put Field

April 11, 2012

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Seven-time USA National Champion and Olympic Silver medalist Christian Cantwell along with KU’s six-time All-American Mason Finley, will complete the downtown shot put field as was announced Wednesday by Kansas Relays officials. The event, which will feature seven of the world’s top-20 throwers, is scheduled for Wednesday, April 18 and will be held in downtown Lawrence on the 100 East block of Eighth Street between Massachusetts and New Hampshire Streets.

Cantwell is arguably one of the Kansas Relays’ most recognizable athletes. The Missouri alum is a regular at the Kansas Relays and has claimed three invitational shot put titles. Cantwell won his first Kansas Relays title in 2002 while competing for Missouri. After a runner-up finish in 2005, he went on to claim his second and third titles while competing professionally for Nike in 2006 and 2008. Cantwell has been among the world’s top-five throwers for an amazing nine years and has been one of the dominant forces in the USA with seven indoor and outdoor national championships. The 31-year-old was a last-minute scratch from last-year’s inaugural downtown shot put due to an injury and is looking forward to vying for a downtown crown of his own.

Finley is perhaps the top up-and-coming thrower in the U.S. today. With marks that rank in the top-three of the all-time school shot put and discus lists, Finley has surpassed such legendary names as Al Oerter, Karl Salb and Bill Nieder. He’s the two-time reigning Big 12 Champion in the outdoor shot put and also claimed the league title in the discus in 2010. In 2011 he hit the world’s sixth-best indoor shot put mark with his school record and personal best throw of in 20.71 meters (67-11.50 ft.). He has amassed six All-America honors and is within reach of Karl Salb’s school record of eight All-Americas.

The final competitors added to the 2012 shot put list are former USA indoor title holder Dan Taylor, former Oklahoma basketball star Kevin Bookout and Justin Rodhe, who had the world’s No. 5 five mark this past indoor season.

They join Dylan Armstrong (2011 World No. 1), Adam Nelson (No. 3), Reese Hoffa (No. 4), Ryan Whiting (No. 7) and Cory Martin (No. 20) to help make up one of the most competitive shot put fields the US will see this year.

The primetime event is scheduled for 6 p.m., Wednesday, April 18, and will kick off the 85th Kansas Relays, which will take place April 18-21 at Memorial Stadium. With the shot put one of two events slated to take place in downtown Lawrence, the elite field will highlight the non-traditional locale. Fitting in with the non-traditional theme is a field of competitors as unique as the location they will be competing in. Here’s an additional look at some of the throwers who have committed to this year’s event:

Ryan Whiting
World Ranking: No. 1
Hometown/College: Harrisburg, Pa./Arizona State `10
Notable Achievements:

  • 2012 World Indoor Champion
  • 2011 USA Indoor Champion
  • Two-time USA Indoor runner-up (2010, 2012)
  • Back-to-back NCAA Shot Put Championships (2009-10)
  • Became the 10 person to win both the NCAA shot put and discus titles in the same year (2010).
  • Six-time NCAA Champion (three outdoor titles, three indoor titles)

About Whiting: Throughout his standout college career as a Sun Devil, Whiting repeatedly stated his goal of breaking the college shot put record set by former UCLA thrower John Godina in 1995.In his final NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore., Whiting came just 1.25 inches short of reaching his goal when he recorded a toss of 72-1. However, the throw won him his second NCAA shot put title and a world ranking of No. 5. Whiting finished ahead of Kansas’ Mason Finley in both the shot put and the discus at the NCAA Championships. After winning the 2012 world indoor championship he is the latest rising star in an event dominated for years in America by the “Big Three” – Reese Hoffa, Christian Cantwell and Adam Nelson. At just 24 years of age, Whiting recorded the furthest indoor throw in the world in 2011 and leads in the early months of 2012. Among other things, Whiting lists knitting, origami and exploring tunnels as some of his hobbies.

Reese Hoffa
World Ranking: No. 3
Hometown/College: Evans, Ga./Georgia `01
Notable Achievements:

  • 2012 US Indoor Champion
  • 2008 Olympian
  • 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials Champion
  • Won back-to-back World Outdoor Championships (2006-07) and U.S. Outdoor Championships (2007-2008)
  • 2006 World Indoor Champion
  • Six U.S. Championships runner-up finishes (three indoor and outdoor)

About Hoffa: While Hoffa has been a longtime power in the sport, his quirky personality and touching family story have brought the former Georgia Bulldog notoriety. After winning the Drake Relays shot put title as a college junior in 2000, Hoffa did a victory lap around the stadium while eating a turkey leg, which started his post-victory “Turkey Trot” tradition. An avid professional wrestling fan, Hoffa paid tribute to his favorite sport at the 2004 Home Depot Invitational by donning a mask and cape while competing and dubbing himself “Unknown Shot Putter”. The getup worked for Hoffa, as he recorded a personal-best throw, and declared it a personal goal of his to compete wearing a full bear suit and be brought out to the field in a cage. Away from the competitive arena, Hoffa is a speed cuber who can solve a Rubik’s Cube puzzle in 30 seconds. The veteran thrower has been outspoken about his adoption at the age of four. Hoffa’s mother was just 13 years old when she gave birth to her first child and only 15 when Hoffa was born. Four years later, the family’s Louisville, Ky., house burned down, and Hoffa and his brother were taken to an orphanage. The two brothers were then separated when Hoffa was adopted into another family. As a child, Hoffa, who was born Maurice Antawn Chism, changed his name in order to embrace his new life. However, Hoffa never stopped wondering about his old life and embarked on a years-long search to find his birth mother, all the while not knowing that she was searching for him at the same time. The two finally reconnected after finding one another on the internet in 2000, and have remained a part of each other’s lives to this day.

Christian Cantwell
2011 World Ranking: No. 5
Hometown/College: Jefferson City, Mo./Missouri ’03
Notable Achievements:

  • 2008 Olympic Silver Medalist
  • 2009 World Championships Gold medalist
  • Seven-time USA Champion (Four Indoor, Three Outdoor)
  • Two-Time Indoor Visa Championship Series champion
  • Four-time Kansas Relays Shot Put Champion
  • Six-time NCAA Division I All-American at Missouri

About Christian
You need to go all the way back to 2003, when Christian Cantwell was a senior at Missouri, to find a time when he wasn’t ranked in the top five in the world in the shot put for either indoor or outdoor competition. In that span he recorded the farthest throw in the world four different seasons both indoors and outdoors. In 2010 alone Cantwell competed in 20 meets where he threw the shot more than 70 feet and won the inaugural IAAF Diamond League Championship in his event. In 2009 he ended the outdoor season with the three best throws in the world. In 2006, Cantwell posted the top-three outdoor throws in the world, and six of the top eight throws. In 2004 he posted the top four throws in the world that outdoor season. He held a 14-meet winning streak heading into the 2004 Olympic Trials. Cantwell was a hotel and restaurant management major at Missouri. He married Terri Steer in 2005 and the couple had their first child on May 27, 2008, a son named Jackson Daniel.

Adam Nelson
World Ranking: No. 6
Hometown/College: Atlanta/Dartmouth `97
Notable Achievements:

  • 2000 and 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist, 2008 Olympian
  • 2000 and 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials Champion
  • 2005 World Outdoor Champion
  • Seven U.S. Championships (five outdoor, two indoor)
  • 1997 NCAA Champion
  • Five-time member of the U.S. National Team

About Nelson: Nelson is the veteran of the 2012 Kansas Relays shot put field, and the only competitor to have competed the past three Olympic Games. Nelson has yet to slow down in and out of track and field. Ten years after winning the 1997 NCAA title, Nelson took on a heavy work load. In his first year as an MBA student at Virginia, Nelson also served as a volunteer assistant throws coach, worked as a part-time reporter for three Charlottesville, Va., television stations and also reached a No. 2 world ranking while taking home silver at the 2007 World Outdoor Championships. He topped himself the following year, when he recorded the top throw of 2008 (72-7) at Nike’s Prefontaine Classic. A two-sport collegiate athlete, Nelson comes from an extremely athletic family. Nelson’s brother plays rugby, his sister is a former Dartmouth soccer star and his father played football at Mississippi. As a football player at Dartmouth, Nelson played inside linebacker before later being moved to defensive tackle. Nelson looked as though he was poised for a win on the world’s biggest stage at the 2004 Olympics. Nelson’s winning throw in the U.S. Olympic trials measured as the ninth-best in history. It was the longest throw recorded in 10 years and boosted him to the top of the world rankings going into the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. Nelson’s first throw in Athens put him in first place, which was a mark that would hold up until the end of the event. It looked as though Nelson had won gold after his final throw, but it was declared foul and he finished with silver. Nelson’s first big win came in 2005, when after years of runner-up finishes he captured the world outdoor championship in Helsinki, Finland.

Dylan Armstrong
World Ranking: No. 12
Hometown: Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada
Notable Achievements:

  • 2011 World Championships Silver Medalist
  • Inaugural Kansas Relays Downtown Shot Put Champion (2011)
  • Six-time Canadian National Champion
  • Set Canadian shot put record in 2011
  • 2008 Olympian
  • 2010 Commonwealth Games Champion

About Armstrong: Competing in his second-straight Kansas Relays, Armstrong has long dominated the shot put in Canada. In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Armstrong set a new Canadian record with his throw of 69-0.25, but missed out winning a bronze medal by just a centimeter. Armstrong was victorious in the shot put at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, becoming the first Canadian to win the event in 28 years.

Cory Martin
World Ranking: No. 18
Hometown/College: Bloomington, Ind./Auburn `08
Notable Achievements:

  • 2008 NCAA Shot Put and Hammer Throw Champion
  • 2008 USATFCC Male Field Athlete of the Year
  • Three-time SEC Champion (shot put in 2007, hammer throw in 2005 and 2007)
  • 2004 Junior National Shot Put Champion

About Martin: Martin is a somewhat new addition to the world stage after moving into the international rankings for the first time in his career with a huge performance at the 2010 Tucson Elite Throwers Classic. Coming into the event, Martin owned a personal best of 68-03.75, but shattered the mark with just his second throw, and again with his third throw. Martin’s third-round mark of 72-06.25 ft., surpassed his previous mark by nearly three feet, and was the third-best mark of the year. Now more than three years removed from his stellar college career, Martin has established himself as a top up-and-coming thrower. Martin’s sister, Stacy Martin-Tenney, was also an All-American thrower at Auburn. An avid golfer, Martin someday hopes to compete in the Long Drive World Championships.

Mason Finley
2012 World Ranking: No. 19
Hometown/College: Salida, Colo./Kansas ’09-Present
Notable Achievements:

  • Four-time Big 12 Champion
  • Six-time All-American (two outdoor shot put, two outdoor discus and two indoor shot put)
  • 2010 Midwest Region Male Track & Field Athlete of the Year
  • Earned Bronze medal at 2011 World University Games in the shot put
  • Kansas school record holder in the indoor shot put (67-11.50 ft.)

About Mason
In just over two years at Kansas, Finley has managed to place his name among some all-time great KU throwers Al Oerter, Carl Salb and Doug Knop. He has been named a first team All-American in the shot put and discus each season he has competed in the Crimson and Blue and has added four Big 12 titles to his name as well. Finley has cemented himself among some of the top up-and-coming American throwers in the world, seeing his name ranked in the top-50 of the world ranking each of the last three years. Already with experience in international competition (Bronze in shot put at 2011 World University Games), keep an eye out for Finley’s name on Olympic medal stands in the not so distant future. The 21-year-old Finley is a junior at KU and is majoring in film and acting.