The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
College of San Mateo shot putter extraordinaire Evan McDaniel was a 175-pound thrower who qualified for the Nevada state track and field meet as a senior at Spanish Springs High School in Sparks, Nev. in 2005.
Four years later, he had his degree in biology from University of Nevada-Reno but, with no track and field team at the university, he thought his career was over after high school.
Or so he thought.
“I coached a little bit after high school. I would just dabble with [throwing],” McDaniel said. “I stopped (coaching my alma mater) in 2008.”
Fast forward to 2011 and McDaniel, who had moved to San Mateo, was on the athletic field at College of San Mateo, training a decathlete friend. It just so happened CSM track coach Joe Mangan was wandering around and saw a discus go flying into the air. He went down to find out what was going on and a struck up a conversation with McDaniel.
Two years later, McDaniel is the leading community college shot putter in the nation. His season-best mark of 58 feet, four inches is about a foot better than the second-best throw in the nation. At the state championships, his main competition will come from Riverside’s Connor Einck, whose best throw this season is 55-11.
In the discus, McDaniel has the ninth-best effort in the country and the fourth-best in the state.
“The only day I was up here and the opportunity opened up,” McDaniel said, 26. “It was a total accident coming up here. That was just ridiculous looking back on it.”
Since he did not compete in athletics at University of Nevada, McDaniel still has college eligibility. When he found out he was still eligible to compete in college, he jumped at the chance, enrolling mainly in online courses at CSM. Saturday, he will attempt to win a state title in the shot put when CSM hosts the 63rd California Community College Athletic Association Track and Field State Championship. The competition started Friday with a number of field event finals, along with the first day of the multi-discipline events — decathlon and heptathlon. Saturday, however, is the big day with all the running events being contested as well as the conclusion of the field events.
Competition begins 9 a.m. Saturday and is expected to conclude about 5:30 p.m.
McDaniel said he thought about competing after high school, but two things stood in his way: the fact University of Nevada did not have a men’s track and field team and his own attitude.
“I never thought I was a very good thrower,” McDaniel said. “I still loved it, but there was nowhere to compete (in Nevada).”
Since his senior year of high school, however, McDaniel has packed on the pounds — “All naturally,” he is quick to add — and is now a rock-solid 258 pounds. Add in the coaching of throws guru Mike Lewis and it has added up to McDaniel becoming one of the best shot putters and discus throwers in the state.
He also competes in the hammer throw and javelin, but it’s in the other two disciplines he has made his mark.
“I would still be screwing around doing nothing without [Lewis]. He’s just an awesome man to be in my life,” McDaniel said. “I knew as soon as I started throwing with him, I knew he was a good coach. He knows the throws.”
It’s one thing to have a coach to know what he’s doing. It’s another to be able to implement those instructions. It’s a two-way street and as good as coach Lewis is, McDaniel is an equally good student.
“I consider myself a really coachable person,” McDaniel said. “I’m able to make the adjustments.
“It’s astounding how technical the throws are. There are so many adjustments you have to make.”
McDaniel said he’s not necessarily looking to win a state championship. He just wants to perform at his best when it matters the most.
“I’m not concerned where I place. I have some distances where I want to get. I want to throw 60 feet in the shot. I want to get the hammer above 170 (feet) and get the discus in that same realm,” McDaniel said. “For track, it’s more individual. It’s a sport based on individual events. It’s not really a head-to-head competition.
“For track athletes, it’s more about setting your own standards.”
Now a certified trainer at 24 Hour Fitness in San Mateo, McDaniel would love to continue throwing after his CSM career. There is a lot more opportunities to continue competing in California, compared to Nevada. After all but giving up the sport once, he’s not ready to close the door too quickly again.
“I’m lucky to have gotten back into it. I’ll try to take it as far as I can. I love throwing [stuff]. I want to throw more [stuff],” McDaniel said. “I’m really trying to come back as part of the coaching staff. … Just give back.”