CHAMPION: Simmons wins NCAA national weight throw title

Friday, March 10, 2017
by Wes Bloomquist || wbloomquist@uttyler.edu

NAPERVILLE, Illinois – Whitney Simmons became the first two-time NCAA Division III National Champion in UT Tyler history by winning the Weight Throw with a mark of 19.62 meters at the 2017 NCAA DIII Indoor Championships on Friday at the Al B. Carius Track.

Simmons, who is now a six-time NCAA All-American, took the lead in the event with her third attempt at 19.49 before putting an exclamation point on the championship at 19.62 meters on her sixth and final throw. Lydia Meier finished as runner-up to Simmons with a throw of 19.42 meters on her second attempt and Meghan Serdock (Oneonta) finished third at 18.59 meters. A junior from Wisconsin-Stout, Meier has now finished second two straight seasons after finishing second to Simmons who took center stage on the podium.  

“I think I was more emotional for this win than I was for the Outdoor title last season,” Simmons said. “I had to really work for this one. Every day. Every week. My competitors made me bring my best to the ring today and I couldn’t have asked for a better competition. After it was over I just felt this flood of relief run over me. My Indoor season is done and I couldn’t have asked for a better last ride.”

A White Oak native, Simmons is now a three-time NCAA DIII Indoor All-American after finishing as runner-up in 2015 and fifth last season as a junior. She also has three NCAA DIII All-American honors in the Hammer Throw coming into her final Outdoor season where she is the defending NCAA DIII National Champion in the event. She won the 2017 Weight Throw on Friday after feeling frustrated by the fifth-place finish and throw of 17.56 meters at the 2016 Indoor Championships but also by dominating the entire season. Simmons came into the meet as the national leader with a throw of 19.77 meters last month in Frisco which is her personal best and the fifth best throw in DIII history. She had already won the championship after her third attempt, but her sixth attempt and final collegiate Weight Throw would go 19.62 to further show that she is always pushing for greater goals and accomplishments.

“It’s an indescribable feeling,” UT Tyler coach Chris Stonestreet said. “I’m so happy for Whitney and incredibly proud of her. There’s something a little sweeter about this one after seeing her disappointment from last year’s Indoor season and her determination to wipe that away from her memory. Words just can’t explain how happy I am for her.”

Simmons put together an Indoor season where she would win events at the University of Houston (18.19 meters), Missouri Southern (18.89 meters), Boston University (19.10), Dunamis Indoor Classic (19.77 meters) and Texas A&M (19.16 meters). Working with Stonestreet, Simmons has become the most dominant thrower in the nation since arriving in Tyler in 2014.

“I am amazed at the calmness and professionalism displayed by Chris and Whitney in the midst of a very close competition,” UT Tyler coach Bob Hepler said. “Chris knows what to say and what to adjust. Whitney listens and executes. It’s like watching Vincent Van Gogh paint Starry Starry Night.”

UT Tyler has now won six NCAA national championships with Simmons winning two, softball (2016), Kevonte Shaw (2015 – 200 meters), men’s golf (2013) and Laura Lindsey (2013 – women’s golf).

“What do I attribute to winning? Patience,” Simmons said. “Two years of patience from both Chris and I. This win means so much to me and I’m so thankful to be here representing UT Tyler and everything we’ve worked for. I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around my first title, and now I have a second and it’s going to take me even longer to come to terms with that. I’m so very blessed and thankful for everyone and everything that’s gotten me to this point.”