Shot heard ’round the nation: Ram wins NCAA title

Mostafa Hassan is the first CSU athlete to win a national title in the shot put.

Mostafa Hassan joined one of CSU’s most exclusive clubs over the weekend, winning the men’s shot put title at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in College Station, Texas.

Hassan, a junior engineering major from Cairo, Egypt, not only won the national title, he crushed the field in doing so, winning by more than four feet – a huge amount in the shot put.

“Mostafa is a world-class athlete,” CSU coached Brian Bedard said of Hassan, who unleashed his record effort on his sixth and final throw. “It’s special to be able to work with him.

“I think he was a little nervous to start out so his first couple of throws weren’t what we were going for. Then, he kind of dialed it up and kind of gave this ugly but powerful and aggressive third throw. After that you could see his relaxation level come in line and his technique come together. It set him up for that final throw.”

One of four NCAA champs

With the victory Hassan become just the fourth CSU track and field athlete to win an NCAA national championship. Previous winners include Casey Malone (discus, 1998), Loree Smith (hammer, 2005) and Bryan Berryhill (indoor mile, 2001; outdoor 1,500 meters, 2000) – CSU’s only two-time NCAA champion.

(Sprinter Pam Greene and middle distance standout Wendy Koenig-Knudson won women’s national titles in the 1970s before the NCAA sanctioned women’s sports.)

Rams post best finish in school history

Hassan’s performance helped the CSU men’s team to 18 points and a 12th-place finish – best in school history. The previous best was 20th place in 2002.

In all, seven Rams – five men, two women – won All-American honors – a school record – at the two-day meet that includes only the best of the best from around the country.

“We have some very special athletes in our program right now that are very talented and know how to compete,” Bedard said. “It’s so tough, so difficult, so competitive at this level. I’m just really proud of the team and the coaching staff for putting together a great indoor season. It’s definitely one to remember.”

Price, Rockhold shine as well

In addition to Hassan’s winning effort, CSU’s other points came from heptathlete Hunter Price and Cole Rockhold in the 3,000 meters.

Price, a former walk-on competing in his first NCAA meet, finished fourth in the seven-event heptathlon, shattering school and Mountain West Conference records while scoring 5,996 points. Price, majoring in agricultural sciences, came up with a personal-best vault of 15 feet, 6 inches to boost his point total in the two-day event.

“Hunter’s a special athlete,” CSU assistant coach Ryan Baily. “That’s a massive score he posted. He’s going to be one of the greats, that’s for sure.”

Rockhold, a sophomore majoring in business education, was running the 3,000 for just the second time after qualifying for nationals at the Mountain West championships. Rockhold, who earlier this season joined Berryhill as the only Rams to break the 4-minute mile, finished sixth at nationals while competing against an elite field.

“Cole closed phenomenally,” said CSU assistant coach Art Siemers. “For a sophomore competing in his first NCAA Championships we were super happy with how he finished and how he composed himself.”

CSU’s other All-Americans were Grant Fischer (5,000), Jerrell Mock (5,000), Lorenda Holston (60-meter hurdles) and Aaliyah Pete (shot put). CSU had never had more than three All-Americans in a season.