Freshman Cody Fillinich wins All-America honors at NCAA meet in javelin

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Cody Fillinich became the first freshman to win All-America honors in Leon Johnson's 23 seasons as track and field coach at Northwestern State when the Golden Meadow-South Lafourche product finished 10th in the men's javelin Friday evening at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

Fillinich threw 214-5, slightly below his season-best 218-0, but good enough to be one of the top eight American-born finishers in the event. The top eight finishers overall and the top eight American-born finishers in each event at the NCAA Championships earn All-America recognition.

Boise State senior Gabriel Wallin won the javelin with a 258-5 throw. Southeastern Louisiana's Chris Carter was sixth at 229-7.

The top 12 finishers in Wednesday's qualifying round advanced to the finals. The top five finishers at four regional championships, along with six at-large invitations, comprised the field at the national meet. Northwestern topped all schools in the javelin with three qualifiers, but seniors Shane Curlee and Loren Martin, like Fillinich competing in their first national meet, did not advance from Wednesday's prelims.

Fillinich steadily improved during his three throws in Friday evening's finals. He opened with a 194-2 1/2 mark, then threw a 208-9 mark on his second attempt and registered his 214-5 on his third try, moving ahead from 11th to 10th. Texas A&M senior Jarrad Matthews (213-2) and Virginia Tech junior Jacobus Smit (207-7) each fouled on their third and final attempt.

Fillinich will be the No. 2 seed in the javelin in two weeks at the USA Junior Track and Field Championships at the same facility, Hornet Stadium on the campus of Cal State-Sacramento.

"We're very excited about Cody winning All-America," said throws coach Mike Heimerman. "To do it as a freshman is tremendous. He's got some distance left in him this year and this competition should help him going into the junior nationals."

Top finishers in the junior nationals advance to international competition over the summer representing Team USA.

This marks the seventh time in eight years that Northwestern has had either a male or a female javelin thrower reach the NCAA Outdoor Championships. All of the athletes have been Louisiana prep products and three previously — Regina Roe, Latrell Frederick and Samantha Ford — have won All-America honors by virtue of their performances at the national meet.

Ford was the first female freshman in school history to accomplish the feat two years ago. Fillinich is believed to be the first male freshman in school history to earn All-America honors at the NCAA Division I championships. NSU joined Division I in 1977.