Fri Aug 23rd, 2013
Special to the Drum
Tags: Air Force Invite, Alamosa’s High Altitude Challenge, Ignacio Bobcats, Ignacio High School Track and Field, Mason Finley, Mrs. Melanie Taylor, NCAA Championships, Rocky Cundiff, USTFCCCA Mountain Regional Field Athlete-of-the-Year
Ignacio High’s present-day juniors and seniors would have been mid-schoolers when CHSAA history-maker Mason Finley arrived in town and became probably the largest teacher it has ever seen.
“Well I’m the one who had to tell the stories to most of ’em,” Athletic Director Rocky Cundiff said, “because they didn’t know. And Mrs. [Melanie] Taylor too; Mason broke her cell phone on a throw at the State meet … so Mrs. Taylor was big on him too!”
The 6-foot-8, 320-pound Mason Finley, who stopped by Ignacio for three hours on Aug. 10, became a prep-level discus record-holder in both Colorado and the U.S. with his 236-foot, six-inch toss at Alamosa’s High Altitude Challenge in ’09.
First at Salida High, then at Buena Vista (with whom he set the grand standard and from where he graduated), and now at the University of Wyoming after earning eight All-America honors at the University of Kansas, Finley explained the finer points of throwing to an intimate group of five young competitors, along with a few parents and coaches.
“We had five athletes and a couple parents there,” Cundiff said. “They broke it down, simplified things. … You could see great increases from every kid because of what those guys were showing ’em.
“So [Mason] did a little community service for us, and it was good for him,” Cundiff said. “The amazing thing is, when he went ahead and threw — wasn’t even warmed up — he hit 196 feet. With a college disc. And with a high school disc he hit the bleachers! Thank goodness; if he’d released at the right time he would have hit some trailers out there! It was awesome.”
Due to NCAA transfer rules, Finley was allowed to compete this spring during the indoor T&F season, but had to officially redshirt during the outdoor schedule so to have a full senior season in 2014.
Representing the Cowboys, Finley had a season-best — and second-best in the U.S. — of 65 feet, 9.75 inches in the shot put at the Air Force Invite in Colorado Springs on Jan. 26, and later won the Mountain West Conference title with a 65-foot-1.5 in Boise, Idaho, on Feb. 23. He did not place at the NCAA Championships in Fayetteville, Ark., on March 8, however, due to a footwork-created foul.
Named the USTFCCCA Mountain Regional Field Athlete-of-the-Year for his accomplishments at the MWCs, Finley then competed “unattached” outdoors in the discus — winning three meets (including UW’s Cowpoke Open on May 3 with a season-best of 205 feet), placing second at one and third at another.