Release courtesy of Al King, Assistant Athletic Director, Media Relations at Ashland University
Ashland, Ohio -- There is considerable debate about the existence of the Loch Ness Monster. All anyone really has to go on is some murky film footage of a blur and a pond.
As for the Loughney (LOCK-nee) Monster, that is very real. There are pictures and there are marks, measurements that verify he is one of the nation’s best track and field athletes.
That point was driven home again last week when Ashland University senior Ryan Loughney (Grahamsville, N.Y./Tri-Valley) was included on the Watch List for the 2012 Bowerman Award.
Loughney is one of 17 men in the country who are on the 2012 Watch List. The Bowerman Award is to track and field what the Heisman Trophy is to college football. In 2011, the Bowerman Award was presented to Florida State’s Ngoni Makusha and Texas A&M’s Jessica Beard. Loughney is one of three throwers on the list – the others are Tim Glover of Illinois State (javelin) and Mason Finley of Kansas (throws). Loughney is one of two student-athletes in the group that are outside of Division I, the other is Ben Sathre of St. Thomas (Minn.).
“It’s a first for the university,” said AU head coach Jud Logan. “To be mentioned is high praise. Ryan Loughney is a kid who deserves everything he gets. He’s not a seeker of the spotlight. He’s a nose-to-the-grindstone kid. As a freshman, sophomore and junior, he’s been to six nationals and set six lifetime bests. I’ve never had anybody do that. This is a kid who knows how to get himself ready. One of his goals is to make the Olympic Trials this June in Eugene. That’s kind of neat because that’s where the Bowerman Award originally came from.”
Loughney has the second longest throw in the country, regardless of division, in the weight throw (72 feet, 5.25 inches). That is an automatic qualification for the NCAA Division II national championships, which will be Mar. 9-10, at Minnesota State-Mankato. Loughney already has three national titles to his credit. At the 2011 indoor national championships, he won the weight throw (72-1.75). Last spring at outdoor nationals he won gold in the hammer throw and set a meet record of 230-2. Loughney’s first national crown came in the hammer in 2010 when he threw 218-6.
So how does an athlete like Loughney, who throws around heavy implements like they’re ping pong balls, end up at Ashland? Well, as good as Loughney is at stretching the tape when he competes, he came up short in that department when Division I coaches looked at his size.
“A lot of Division I schools backed off because he was 5-11,” explained Logan. “I competed internationally and got my butt kicked by guys 5-10 and 5-11. I knew that wouldn’t be a factor. We were willing to roll the dice. You have to be willing to do that here.”
“I basically let my technique speak for itself,” said Loughney, when pressed about his stature. “As long as I remain confident I’ll be successful.”
Considering how Loughney has performed in championship competition, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be confident.
“I don’t get caught up in what another person is doing,” said Loughney of his ability to come up big in the season’s biggest events. “I just concentrate and go through the process I always do. It basically comes down to what I do. I’m actually the quietest guy on our team. I just do what I have to do, I know what I have to do.
“I guess you can call it a gift,” continued Loughney. “It’s something I’ve always known how to do, to compete. I take pride in that. Jud calls it, ‘Flip a Switch.”
Logan also emphasizes that Loughney’s success can be traced to his ability to keep his life in order. There’s no mad dash to complete work as final exams arrive. There’s never any issue with coming late to practice or missing workouts. There’s no drama, in his life, or when he steps into the ring to throw.
“He’s a gamer,” noted Logan. “It’s a cliché, but there’s no other way to put it. Certain individuals can find another level on game day. He keeps his eye on the prize. That includes getting your rest, your recovery and keeping your focus. He’s had those three things and that’s enabled him to compete in a world class way even as a freshman. He had that world class mentality.”
Loughney threw the hammer for three years in high school, so when he got to Ashland, he didn’t have to be introduced to the event. For years, Logan has had one of the best throwing programs in the country, regardless of division. Loughney fit right in with that group.
“His progress has been steady,” said the AU head coach. “Every year he’s found a way to do something a little different, that something extra. We have a saying here, ‘Champions are made when no one is watching.’ He embodies that statement. There is no glory in practice and it’s easy to not practice when I’m not around. He has intelligence, desire and passion.”
Loughney is currently ranked ninth in the United States in the hammer. He knows he can be an anchor for an AU team that figures to be one of the top teams in the country. He can score points and push the Eagles to the podium when the national awards are handed out in March. But his early qualification also gives him time to train in the hammer for that run for the Olympic Trials.
“Being number nine, that doesn’t automatically get you in,” emphasized Loughney. “That’s been my goal since I first stepped on campus. Having that automatic mark allows me to focus back on the hammer. That’s where all my money goes, where all my training goes. The weight throw is something I can do to score points for my team at the conference and NCAA’s. I just want to score 20 points indoors.”
Loughney wouldn’t say winning the Bowerman is a goal. But it gives him a great deal of satisfaction to be listed as a contender for the award. Not only does it that help him as far as exposure goes, but it gives another boost to an Ashland program that has continually ranked among the nation’s best.
“It’s nice to be known as one of the top NCAA athletes in track and field in all divisions,” said Loughney. “I’m very appreciative of the recognition and being nominated for it.”