Njegovan (shot) puts Aurora on the map
Ryan Njegovan is a name people will be tossing around for a long time to come. That's because the junior at Aurora University tossed a shot put 17.83 meters (58'6") to become the school's first NCAA Division III national champion recently.
Njegovan also became the first athlete in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference to win a title indoors. Both of his accomplishments came at the NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships earlier this month at North Central College in Naperville.
Perhaps even more surprising is that the shot put isn’t Njegovan's main event: He's primarily an outdoor discus thrower.
"Our main focus is actually the discus, so winning shot for him was just something to do for indoor," Brandon Sturman, Aurora’s head track and field coach, told the Kane County Reporter. "His main goal is to be a national champion in the disc, and we are continuing to work on that everyday, even during indoor."
Njegovan has been putting in a lot of extra work to get to this level. Sturman credits a more formalized conditioning regimen with improving Njegovan's throwing distances.
"Ryan has been working from before we even got him to Aurora," Sturman said. "He was doing a lot of training on his own, mainly for disc, but I would say most of the credit goes to Coach (Alex) Rose for getting him on the right strength program to allow him to peak at the right time. He probably lifts four or five days a week, plus throwing four times a week, but backs off when needed."
He's also a leader in the program. According to Sturman, Njegovan has a knack for keeping things light and loose in the locker room, while still working hard and pushing for the same from his teammates.
"Ryan is actually a very funny guy," Sturman said. "He's always up in the office hanging out and cracking jokes. He is also one to not be afraid to call someone out. I think it’s just part of how he thinks and what makes him so good mentally. But if someone is slacking or not working hard, he'll say something. For some people it's good motivation, and with our overall group of throwers, it works really well."
With the indoor season coming to a close, Njegovan will refocus on the discus throw. Now that he has a taste of success in the shot put, however, he'll most likely keep at it.
"I would expect Ryan to put all his time now into the disc and look for him to be the top contender," Sturman said. "I think he will also throw shot, and I hope he can come out on top, but just having him place would be fine, though I know he will want to win it all. I am just looking forward to seeing what he can accomplish in his time here. I am grateful for him being a part of our program and really getting our throws back on the map."