Thornton racks up accolades early in career

Courtesy / Doug Witte
Sophomore Darien Thornton has broken Grand Valleys record in weight throw twice and is qualified for nationals.

Courtesy / Doug Witte Sophomore Darien Thornton has broken Grand Valley’s record in weight throw twice and is qualified for nationals.

Tate Baker

Coming into Grand Valley State University as a freshman, Darien Thornton was anxious to get his feet wet in the collegiate ranks of his area of expertise: the shot put and hammer throw.

“I had a really good high school coach who really showed me what I could do,” Thornton said. “Coming into Grand Valley I didn’t really know what to expect, I just knew that I was ready to compete. I really had no idea exactly how much success I would have in my freshman year.”

His mindset and expectations were suddenly altered to a higher platform after his rookie campaign in the team’s indoor season, in which he accomplished more than he could have imagined.

He received All-American honors in the weight throw, a second-place finish in the weight throw at the GLIAC Indoor Championships, and topped it off by finishing seventh at the 2013 Division II indoor Championships.

“I was really surprised at how well I did in my first year, I would have never guessed I would have been able to accomplish all the things I did,” he said. “Transitioning from the high school weights to the college weights was a big change. I definitely exceeded my expectations in my freshman year which really helped my confidence from that point on.”

You could say his momentum carried over to the spring season during his freshman year, where he continued to rack up accolades.

He went on to take home a second-place finish in the hammer throw at the outdoor GLIAC Championships, then, a few weeks later, he would close out his freshman year with a third-place finish in the hammer throw at the 2013 Division II Outdoor Championships to receive his second USTFCCCA All-American honor of the year.

“Everything I earned my freshman year will help me continue to push on throughout my career here at Grand Valley,” he said. “More than anything I want a national championship for our team. We were close last year. It showed that we are more than capable of achieving that in the next couple of years.”

A main reason for his success is the support system of the nine other men who throw alongside him. It’s their willingness to make each other better each and every day that allows them to accomplish their respective goals.

“We all want each other to throw as far as we can, we tend to feed off of each other’s momentum,” sophomore Blake Donson said. “It’s not a single person going out there and competing, we compete for each other and that says a lot about our group.”

In only his second year as Laker, Thornton appears to have what it takes to continue the impressive start to his career.

He already set a record this season on Dec. 13 when he broke his own GVSU mark by launching a weight throw of 20.60 meters.

His work ethic and steadily growing consistency set him apart.

“He’s become a lot more consistent since his freshman year,” Donson said. “His work ethic has put him in a place to do great things, he definitely has the potential to be a national champion someday.”

Thornton’s goals also extend beyond college, where he hopes to continue his throwing career as long as he can.

“I want to compete as long as I can,” he said. “Right now there isn’t an end in sight for me. I’m going to continue to work each and every day until I can’t throw anymore.”