By Brenten Kelly

Ryan Hunter-Simms looked like his Oregon 2017 Pac 12 championship form Friday afternoon when competing in the men’s discus at the Oregon Twilight Meet. But he is balancing a job as a Pacific University track and field assistant coach while competing in his post collegiate career.

“I definitely do not train as much as I should — I just go after it every day,” he said. “Just trying to work on the very small things for the past four or five years that I have been messing up on. But it’s been coming together.”

Hunter-Simms won the men’s discus with a distance of 185 feet, 6 inches, 16 feet ahead of Concordia’s Caleb Bridge.

Coaching discus throwers after a successful college career has been a smooth transition for Hunter-Simms. But knowing when to push his body has been the challenge.

“I’m going to keep coaching and training as I am now, even if it’s just half-heartedly,” he said. “Maybe pick up the training a little bit more, but try not to wear my body out. I feel like my body is a lot better than last year, and my mind is in a lot better place by going through coaching and training the same as the athletes I’m training.”

The rest of the month of May will be a benchmark for Hunter-Simms to see if he will compete in the U.S. Nationals at the end of June.

“Depending on how the last two weeks go, then I will keep going with my training, but if not then it’s no big deal,” he said. “I’m perfectly OK with trying to learn as much as I can, seeing where my body is at with my post-collegiate career.”

Concordia University athletes Bridge and Sam Nichols finished second and third, respectively, behind Hunter-Simms. Bridge threw 169-5, and Nichols threw 167-4. Just like Hunter-Simms, Nichols threw his best on his first attempt.

“That’s not usually how I like to do it,” Nichols said. “But I was warming up well and knew what I wanted to start with. I just felt good slinging from the start. Afterwards I kept trying to chase that mark but couldn’t quite get it.”

The atmosphere and pressure of Hayward Field helped Bridge and Nichols perform better than they do in other stadiums, where they often throw out of sight of the crowd.

“It’s nice to have a ring inside the stadium and not behind the stadium like most facilities,” said Bridge. “I like to compete in front of everyone, knowing everyone is watching helps me and gives me a little bit of adrenaline.”

Nichols agreed.

“Makes it more fun for me, little more pressure,” said Nichols. “There is music playing, you really get going and it feels good.”

Coming back to Hayward Field was a new experience for Hunter-Simms. While reflecting on the past, he is hopeful for his Olympic future.

“First time being here in 2018, kind of sad they are tearing it down, but I’m so glad I competed here,” he said. “It’s a great facility. I hope one day, maybe in 2020 I can be back here. We’ll see.”