Dallin Shurts, a 6-foot-7 sophomore discus thrower at BYU, finished second in the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships Thursday to deliver one of the biggest surprises of the opening day.

Shurts, throwing in his home state, didn’t have a single throw over 200 feet and wasn’t in contention for the podium until he uncorked a throw of 204 feet, 5 inches on his sixth and final attempt. It broke his own personal record by four feet. He finished behind Andrew Evans, who had a best throw of 207-4.

The top three finishers in each event at the USA championships qualify to represent the U.S. in the World Track and Field Championships, which will be held on this same University of Oregon track next month. However, there is one caveat — athletes must meet the World Championships standard before or during the national championships; Shurts has not met the standard, which is 216 feet, 5 inches.

Still, Shurts delivered a big performance on one of track’s biggest stages and found a measure of redemption after failing to even qualify for the NCAA championships. He ranked sixth among collegiate throwers, but in the regional meet he placed no better than 23rd and failed to qualify for the NCAA finals.

“He had a horrible regional meet,” says BYU associate head coach Mark Robison. “His first two throws were out of the sector (out of bounds) and his third throw wasn’t far enough (174 feet). You only get three throws. All he had to do was throw 190 feet, which he did in every meet this year.”

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Meanwhile, a handful of other current or former BYU athletes competed Thursday.

– Anna Camp Bennett finished fourth in her heat of the 800-meter run with a time of 2:02.34; only the top three automatically qualify for the final, but Bennett advanced on the basis of time. The 800 final is set for Sunday. 

– Kenneth Rooks, the sixth-place finisher in the NCAA steeplechase final, finished third in his heat with a time of 8:29.44 and advanced to the finals. Teammate Garrett Marsing failed to advance.

– BYU’s Lauen Ellsworth and Sebastian Fernandez also competed in the 800 trials Thursday but failed to qualify for the final.

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