Virginia Discus Thrower Claims National Title by Less Than an Inch

Claudio Romero stands with his arms outstretched victoriously. Orange lines radiate from behind him.

Discus thrower Claudio Romero claimed a national championship Friday with a throw of more than 217 feet. He beat his top competition by less than an inch. (Illustration by Emily Faith Morgan, University Communications)

University of Virginia discus thrower Claudio Romero won the 2022 NCAA national championship Friday night in a thrilling battle where he edged his top competition by less than an inch.

The honor came at the conclusion of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.

Romero entered the competition in the midst of a monster season in the discus for the Wahoos. The sophomore spent the vast majority of the campaign ranked No. 2 in the nation, engaging in a season-long battle for the top spot in the rankings against the University of California-Berkeley’s Mykolas Alekna. The two met head-to-head for the first time at the NCAA Championships.

Romero’s best mark came on his second throw of the evening as he unleashed a toss of 66.17 meters (217 feet, 1 inch) to edge Alekna by two centimeters heading into the finals. The competitors traded throws in the final rounds, but the title was sealed before Romero stepped into the ring for the final time as Alekna could not best Romero’s leading mark.

Romero spins a discus on the middle finger of his left hand
Romero heaved the 4.4 pound discus two centimeters past the second-place thrower, giving him the national title.

“I feel really good,” Romero said. “Sometimes even the best athletes come short of the NCAA championship. Being able to call myself that is definitely one of the milestones of my athletic career that I wanted to check as soon as possible.”

Romero becomes the second Cavalier to earn the right to call himself an NCAA discus champion, joining Filip Mihaljevic, who accomplished the feat in 2017.

The Chilean also joins a club of just four Cavaliers to be named a first team All-American on more than one occasion in the discus. The individual championship is the fourth among UVA athletes under the tutelage of assistant coach Martin Maric, who works primarily with the Virginia throwers.

Romero holds the NCAA trophy and flexes his bicep
Romero is the second Cavalier to win an NCAA championship in discus. Filip Mihaljevic earned the title in 2017.

Romero’s teammate, Jacob Lemmon, also competed in the discus in his second consecutive trip to the NCAA Championships. Lemmon finished 15th in the competition with a mark of 56.77 meters (186’3”), earning All-America honors for the second consecutive season.

With 18 team points, the Cavaliers placed 14th overall to record their best finish since the 2017 season, and their third-best finish all-time. Among ACC teams, Virginia was outscored only by Florida State University, which finished fourth with 33 points.

“Congratulations to our throwers on their outstanding performances, and to Claudio for capturing an NCAA Championship,” said Vin Lananna, director of Virginia Track & Field. “We are laying the foundation to build a special program at the University of Virginia, and we will keep chipping away at it step by step.”

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