When it comes to physical size, Marshall McKown does not stand tall among track and field throwers.
The 5-foot-10, 190-pound McKown managed to surpass that obstacle to become a state runner-up in the discus as a senior at Douglas High School and also win two region titles. And on Sunday, he took a step toward the next chapter in his throwing career when he signed with Asuza Pacific University.
Even though the process of deciding on a college took longer than he would have liked — classes start on Aug. 29 — McKown is excited about moving on to the Southern California school. (He has not declared a major.)
“It was well worth the wait, that’s for sure,” said McKown, who signed the letter at the home of his throws coach, Mike Louisiana. “I still have to do some paperwork, but the hard part is all over now. This is what I’ve been working for.”
At the state meet meet in May, McKown said he was leaning toward Concordia University in Portland, Ore. He changed his mind, however, after visiting Azusa Pacific in June.
“I made an official visit two weeks after the state meet,” McKown said. “The people there were really nice. The coaches made me feel right at home. I just fell in love with the area and the campus.”
Michael Barnett is director of track and field at Azusa Pacific and the throwing coach who will work with McKown.
“We are looking forward to adding Marshall to our throws program,” said Barnett, who placed seventh in the javelin for the U.S. at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. “As we recruit to have a successful NCAA Division II program we are excited to have guys like Marshall that bring solid high school throws coaching and success. We are excited to know he will contribute in the next four years.”
The university is transitioning from a NAIA program to NCAA Division II this coming year. Kevin Reid, head coach of the men’s team at Azusa Pacific, has ties to Northern Nevada since he graduated in 1983 from Carson High School.
“We are excited to have Marshall,” Reid said. “To have a local, from my perspective, is exciting. Marshall will add an immediate impact as we tackle our first year of NCAA Division II.”
Louisiana, believes Azusa Pacific is a good fir for McKown.
“Marshall came a long ways over the four years I’ve known him,” said Louisiana, the 1971 NCAA discus champion for BYU. “He improved every year and he still has a lot of room to grow. He’s going into a program that is structured, he will have training partners and he will get stronger.”
McKown feels he still has considerable room for improvement.
“I wouldn’t consider myself good,” he said. “I’m a student of the event. I’m always learning, always trying to figure out how to get better.”
McKown broke the school record three times this spring in both the shot put and discus. In the discus, he only lost twice in 11 meets, both times at the hands of Reno Tuufuli of Las Vegas Liberty (University of Iowa signee) — at state and at the Stanford Invitational. McKown felt his season highlight actually came April 19 on a rainy, windy day at the Oregon Relays in Eugene, where he threw 161-3 to take the gold medal over Tim Tatton of McMinnville, Ore., and Brock Eager of Tahoma, Wash. Tatton eventually placed second at the Oregon 6A state meet.
“Throwing at Hayward Field (University of Oregon) was great,” McKown said. “So getting a win up there, especially with the weather being bad, really was special.”
He will continue to throw the discus and shot put, however, McKown feels his best prospects for the future are in the hammer throw.
“In the shot and discus, the throwers are usually tall, big and strong,” McKown said, noting the college discus weights 2 kilograms and the shot put weighs 16 pounds. “I’m not the biggest dude out there. But the hammer is more suited for a smaller and faster person.”
Added Louisiana: “The hammer, for a shorter person, is a good event. He’s got a good base for the throws and I think he will be able to develop. It’s going to take him a while ... I’m going to say he’s two, three years away from seeing some good results.”