Marysville’s Hunter Harding is pictured throwing the discus during a meet in this file photo. Harding has earned NCAA Division II All-America honors for the 2020 indoor track and field season in the weight throw. (Journal-Tribune photo by Tim Miller)
Like all college spring sports athletes, Marysville High School graduate Hunter Harding missed out on his 2020 season.
The coronavirus, however, didn’t stop him from earning a very special honor.
Harding, a 2016 MHS grad, is a member of the Grand Valley State (Michigan) University men’s track and field squad that saw its campaign squashed by the pandemic.
It was during the 2019-20 indoor track season, however, when Harding’s light brightly shone.
He was named to NCAA Division II All-America honors in the weight throw.
The event is the indoor version of the outdoor hammer throw.
It consists of throwing a 35-pound ball that is attached to a handle.
Harding qualified for the NCAA Division II national indoor meet by placing third during the GLIAC indoor championships with a heave of 19.91 meters.
That is the equivalent of approximately 64 feet.
That effort eventually placed him 10th in the country for the NCAA Division II indoor season. The top 18 throwers were named to the All-America list.
Harding would have qualified for the D-II national meet in Birmingham, Alabama, based on his conference meet performance.
That competition, however, was also halted by the coronavirus in March.
“It was a big disappointment not to have the indoor national championship or our outdoor season,” said Harding.
He is, however, relishing his national honor.
“It’s a good feeling to be named an All-American, but it was unexpected,” said Harding.
After a 2016-17 redshirt season, Harding became a key member of the Grand Valley men’s track and field program.
He competed in the weight throw, shot put and hammer throw during the 2017-18 outdoor campaign.
Harding continued to increase his distances in events in both the indoor and outdoor seasons during the 2018-19 academic year.
Prior to college, Harding was a shot putter and discus thrower during his high school career at Marysville.
His respective best efforts in those events as a Monarch were 55-1 and 155-5.
Harding also earned All-District and All-Conference (Ohio Capital Conference) accolades as well.
He said he tried the weight throw twice during the indoor high school season, but concentrated his full attention on the shot put and discus.
Harding also competes in the shot put and discus in college.
He said he had to become accustomed to slightly heavier equipment on that level.
The biggest difference, however, was in how distances are measured.
“My biggest adjustment was going from feet in high school to meters in college,” he said.
Harding, who recently finished his junior year at Grand Valley State, still has more track and field ahead of him.
He is eligible for one more indoor season and two more (2021 and 2022) outdoor campaigns.
He will be permitted to compete in 2022 since the 2020 outdoor season was canceled.
“I’d like to get to 20 meters (approximately 68-10) and qualify for the national championship meet again,” said Harding. “I’d also like to get to 64 meters (68-1) in the hammer throw.”
Harding is studying criminal justice and plans to work toward a master’s degree in social innovation.
“I’ve always had the dream of working for the FBI or CIA, however not in the actual policing aspect,” he said. “I would like to become more involved in community building, public administration and social work.”
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