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Unland aiming for No. 1 and 200 feet

Damon Unland has a few records on his mind these days.

For good reason. The Ferris thrower made a big splash last weekend at the prestigious Arcadia Invitational near Los Angeles.

Unland threw a personal best 190 feet, 3 inches in the discus to win, breaking the school record he set last year. He ranks second in the nation.

“I really want to be ranked No. 1 in the nation,” he said.

He wants to crack 200 feet this spring. That could get him to the top of his class nationally.

The 190-3 is 30 feet farther than he was throwing a year ago this time.

Conditions were perfect at Arcadia – mid 70s and a slight breeze.

His record throw came on his last attempt. In the preliminary round, he scratched on his first throw then broke his personal record of last year (181-1) by a foot on his second attempt. He upped that by 2 feet on his third throw.

In the finals, he threw 178 on his first attempt and scratched what he thought was his longest throw on his second attempt. He had a feeling he eclipsed 190 when he let the discus fly on his final attempt.

“It felt good,” he said.

The short and simple answer for Unland’s improvement is he’s worked on speed in the ring.

“I started throwing three weeks before the season,” he said. “I’ve just been building off of that.”

Now Unland, who has signed to throw at Wyoming, hopes to see similar improvement in the shot put.

His personal best, 55-4½, came when he won at regionals last year. In fact, he won both events at regionals when he launched the 181-1 in the discus, a near 20-foot improvement at that point.

He came within a quarter inch of his shot put PR last week and continued his consistency by throwing 55-4 at Arcadia, placing 12th.

“I’m not happy with the shot right now,” Unland said. “My warmup throws at Arcadia were going 60 or farther. I definitely want to break 60 this season.”

You can’t help but notice Unland at a meet. He is the well-built 6-foot-2 guy with hair that streams down past his shoulders.

“I haven’t cut it since my sophomore year in basketball,” Unland said.

Unland said he’s had a slight groin injury lately.

He plans on throwing at the 52nd annual Pasco Invite this weekend. The meet record in the discus is 189-7 set by Jason Baskett of Mead in 1990.

Unland is a student of the throws.

“I watched my throws at Arcadia and there’s still a lot of room for improvement,” he said.

When he goes to meets, though, he puts the video to the back of his mind.

“I don’t think about my form at meets,” he said.

Unland also throws the hammer. He’ll do all three at Wyoming. He’ll do all three at the Mooberry Relays later this month.

Unland, who carries a 3.8 grade-point average and plans to major in engineering, was drawn to Wyoming for a simple reason.

“I really like the coach,” he said.

Starting blocks

The Greater Spokane League’s best dual of the season features the Central Valley and Mead boys and girls at Mt. Spokane today at 4. It could go far in deciding league titles for the boys and girls.

The 52nd annual Pasco Invite is Saturday at Edgar Brown Stadium. Most of the top athletes in the GSL and several from Coeur d’Alene, Lake City, Lewiston and Post Falls will be on hand.

Finish lines

Mead long-distance ace Andrew Gardner participated in the IAAF World Cross Country championships in Poland last month. He finished 42nd in a time of 23 minutes, 30 seconds. … Makayla Strand of Coeur d’Alene vaulted 11 feet, 1 inch in the pole vault at the Christina Finney Relays late last month. It’s 13 inches farther than her 2011 personal best. At the time it ranked her No. 1 in Idaho. She now sits at No. 2, a foot behind the leader. … There were other area athletes who attended Arcadia. Keith Williams (North Central) took second in the mile (4:12.56); Tanner Anderson (NC) placed sixth in the 3,200 (9:05.42); Katie Knight (NC) took third in the 3,200 (10:11.93), 10 seconds ahead of future University of Washington teammate Amy-Eloise Neale (Glacier Peak).