A.G. Kruger, photo by PhotoRun.net
Elliott Denman wrote this piece about A.G. Kruger, the king of the weight throw, and his victory in the 2014 USA Indoor Championships.
By ELLIOTT DENMAN
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,”
Yeah, Alfred “A.G.” Kruger was at his vocal as well as physical best in the 35-pound weight throw, the very first final Saturday in the USA Indoor Track and Field Championships at the Albuquerque Convention Center.
A small, early-rising crowd of friends/fans/family members/aficionados gathered in a corner of the cavernous Convention Center building before any of the track events started and they really heard it from A.G.
The louder the “yeahs” by Kruger, the oath he emitted at the moment of release, the longer his implement flew.
There was a clear correlation, just as there is almost always a correlation between the distances
weight throwers heave their implements (in feet and inches) and the distance they throw
their favorite hammers (in meters) once the outdoor season opens.
Kruger, the Morningside (Iowa) College graduate who marked his 35th birthday four days ago,
has now won the USA indoor weight title eight times – an incredible feat.
But, yeah, you know what, he doesn’t get the recognition he deserved.
His USA Crown No. 8 assured, just two delegates of the media seemed interested in
getting his story.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, he’s used to that kind of treatment.
“Par for the course, nothing unusual,” he said.
Kruger had a solid series, taking the lead from the first round and staying on top the whole way.
Four of his five legal throws – the best of them a mighty 23.70 meters/ 77 feet, 9 Â¼ inches – topped
the best efforts (23.05 / 75-7 Â½) 7of second-place J.C. Lambert.
Pretty darn good, but he was no threat to the world record (25.86 /84-10) Lance Deal threw in 1995.
In order, Kruger reeled off throws of 22.93, 23.39, 23.18, 23.23, and his big one of 23.70 in round five. Going for broke – and seemingly the far wall of the Convention Center – he couldn’t maintain control and wound up with a very long foul.
Defending champion Jake Freeman – who beat Kruger by all of six inches in 2013 – settled for third at 74-9 Â¾, unsettled by his lack of a warmup as much as he was by the performances of Kruger and Lambert.
“They changed the meet schedule (to an 11:15 a.m. start),” explained Freeman. “And I guess I was the only guy here who hadn’t heard about it. No excuse, that was all my fault.”
Yeah, Kruger had it all that figured out, too.
“Yeah, I think it was number eight (national title), or something like that,” said Kruger, smiling.
“It was a good, consistent series, everything felt good . I even thought I had a little more left in me.
“The more consistency you have as an athlete, the more the high-end stuff will come out.
“To be able to do this year after year, like this. It means a lot.”
Yeah, but it will not mean a trip to Poland for the World Indoor Championships, for Kruger and Lambert, as well as Gwen Berry (23.82 / 78-1 Â¼) and Amber Campbell (23.68 / 77-8 Â¼), who went 1-2 in the women’s 20-pound weight throw that followed the men’s event,
Along with the 1-2 finishers in the men’s and women’s 3000-meter racewalks, on the Sunday program. There’s no Poland in their immediate futures because their events are not on the World Indoor schedule.
Global interest in the weight throw just hasn’t evolved; there’s still no great groundswell of a movement to get it added.
Years ago, the IAAF took a compromise position. It launched its IAAF World Challenge series for hammer throwers and racewalkers, as an alternative to these events being on the World Indoor program.
“Same old, same old,” said Kruger, used to the kind of neglect his event gets beyond North America.
“It is what it is.
“It’s going to take more than a guy like me to change it.”
Then again, maybe this isn’t a forever situation.
Maybe, just maybe, some folks on the organizing committee for the 2016 World Indoor Championships, coming to Portland, Oregon, will show some interest in getting it done.
Kruger, of course, thinks that would be a sensational thing, the best thing that could ever happen
for his event, and its devotees.
“It would really put us on the map,” he said.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, count me in.”