University of Findlay junior Justin Welch (Eastwood) not only won an NCAA Division II national indoor title, he now owns national all-time records and qualified for the upcoming NCAA national outdoor championship meet in several throwing events.
UF Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations Dave Buck emailed The Press, saying Welch is the runaway favorite to win the outdoor national title in the hammer throw.
"Justin is a tremendous person and an outstanding athlete," said UF coach Marc Arce. "We have had a number of great throwers over the years and Justin may very well be the best of the bunch."
At Eastwood, Welch was either an indoor (non-OHSAA sanctioned) or outdoor (OHSAA) state champion in four throwing events — the discus, hammer, shot put and weight throw. He attended the University of Georgia for two years and transferred after his 2012 season to Findlay.
At the 2014 NCAA D-II Indoor Track National Championships in mid-March, the Oilers were headlined by the performance of Welch, who took home the championship in the weight throw.
At that meet, the Oilers received another All-American performance in the shot put from senior Marcus Vicars (Genoa). He took eighth of 17 competitors with his first attempt, a toss that distanced 56-9¼. This was the second time in Vicars' career he earned indoor All-American in this event. Welch and Vicars are joined on UF’s throwing squad by freshman Mitch Adkins (Lake).
At a meet in Winston-Salem, N.C., Welch, who had performed exceptionally all year, earned the All-American victory with a throw that measured 73-¾, almost two and a half feet further than the competitor who took second. His throw marked Welch's new personal best, was a new Findlay indoor record, and was also a new JDL Fast Track facility record.
Because of that, Welch was named the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association National Athlete of the Week on March 31.
Welch took third in the hammer throw with his toss of 233-7 on day two of the Jesse Owens Track Classic held at Ohio State University on April 19.
That performance sets a new school record in the event, was the fourth furthest throw in the nation this year across all NCAA divisions and, not only is the new distance to beat in D-II this season, but is the furthest throw in the history of D-II outdoor track and field breaking the mark set in last year's national championship by Ashland's Garrett Grey. You have to remember that most of UF’s competition in Columbus was from D-I schools.
Welch was named the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Outdoor Track and Field Athlete of the Week for his performance at the Raleigh Relays on March 28-29 by taking first place in the hammer throw. His winning mark of 230-1 was almost 20 feet over Michigan State's Antonio James, who finished second in the event. The mark was good enough to set a school record and is the fourth longest heave in the history of NCAA D-II.
Welch was tabbed the 2014 Midwest Region Field Athlete of the Year by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association on March 10. At the time, the Luckey native was the NCAA D-II leader in the weight throw with two separate marks of 72-2¼, ranking him third on the all-time D-II performers list. He is also ranked sixth all-time among all college throwers.
Welch was named the GLIAC Field Athlete of the Week for the second straight week on April 8. Welch had a big weekend for the Oilers at the Bellarmine Invitational (April 4-5) as he took first place in the hammer throw invite with a NCAA automatic qualifying heave of 218-6. He also finished second in the discus with an NCAA provisional toss of 173-6.
Welch proved to be not only the best in Ohio, but one of the best in the nation in the hammer throw as he won the competition by over 42½ feet with a throw that measured 230-11 at the All-Ohio Track and Field Championships held at the University of Cincinnati. This heave gave Welch an automatic ticket to the NCAA national championships, was a new school record in the event, is the best throw by any Division II athlete this season, and ranks third all-time in the history of Division II track and field.
Also in the hammer throw was Vicars, also competed in the event and earned an eighth place finish with a throw of 51.18 meters.
At the Penn Relays in Philadelphia, Pa., Welch won the hammer throw by 20 feet as his NCAA automatic qualifying toss traveled 231-6. It was also the tenth best throw in the history of the prestigious Penn Relays. Vicars placed fifth in the hammer throw with a toss of 179-6.
University of Findlay All-American thrower Justin Welch (Eastwood). (Photo courtesy UF SID)