|Noah Gauthier '08 can now be called a three-time All-American and one-time NCAA champion. (Tom Leonard '78 photo)|
ADA, Ohio -- Bates College senior Noah Gauthier claimed first place in the men's weight throw Friday at the NCAA Division III Indoor Track & Field Championships, winning his first national championship and the first by a Bates athlete since 2006.
Gauthier (Amherst, N.H.) emerged as the victor in a back-and-forth battle with Defiance College senior Trevor Matuszak. The winning throw was his third of the day, a heave of 63 feet, 1 1/2 inches (19.24 meters) that is the best in Division III this season and exceeds Gauthier's previous personal best by 24 1/4 inches. At the end of the meet Gauthier added the Field Athlete of the Meet award to his expanding trophy collection.
"It's sort of shocking, but this is my fourth time at nationals, and I guess I was just kind of comfortable for once," Gauthier explained by phone. "When I was warming up I felt at home for the first time, and it felt like it would be a good day."
Gauthier notched a heave of 18.35 meters on his second attempt to take an early lead, and knew at that point he was likely to place among the top four or five competitors in the 12-man field. "At that point, I could have the confidence that I wasn't going to mess things up, so I could relax a little," said Gauthier.
Matuszak answered with a throw of 18.95 meters to reclaim the lead after his opening-round throw of 18.09, but Gauthier came right back with the closest to perfect throw of his life. "I caught it real well, it felt perfect coming out of my hand, and I had good balance," Gauthier said.
Gauthier was joined by members of his family at the meet, although his brother Dustin Gauthier '05, also a former All-American in the weight throw, couldn't make it. Adding to the special atmosphere was the fact that Gauthier received his medal at the awards podium from his close friend, Bates interim coach Matthew Capone '07, who is leading the men's track and field team while head coach Al Fereshetian is on sabbatical.
"That made it extra special, to be able to get it from him and to give him a big hug," said Gauthier. "I think he was as excited as I was."
Gauthier is the third Bates man to win the national championship in the weight throw. Jamie Sawler '02 did it in 2002, also at Ohio Northern University, in a facility record that still stands (64'01.75"), as did Billy McEvila '99 in 1998.
It is the 14th men's track and field championship earned in Bates history. It is also the first individual national title won by a Bates athlete since May 2006, when Keelin Godsey '06 won the women's hammer throw title (and set the Division III record) and Will Boe-Wiegaard '06 claimed the men's tennis singles crown.
With Gauthier's 10 team points, Bates finished in a four-way tie with Salem State, UMass-Dartmouth and Fisk University for 18th place out of 66 scoring teams at the meet.
"It's always fun to represent Bates on the national level," Gauthier said. "Everyone here knows Bates, and I had all these coaches asking about me, asking how (Bates throws coach Joe) Woodhead was doing. It's good to win this for the coaches -- Coach Fresh (Fereshetian), Coach Woodhead, Matt... They care as much as I do."
Read a feature story about Noah Gauthier that appeared in the March 13, 2008 edition of the Lewiston Sun-Journal.