DES MOINES - University of Northern Iowa senior Justin Romero took 19th place in the shot put at the NCAA Championships on Saturday morning to wrap up the Panthers' slate of events at Drake Stadium.
Romero, the all-time Missouri Valley Conference record-holder in the shot put, recorded a foul on his first attempt. He threw 59-00.00 (17.98m) on his second attempt - a mark that would have been a new school record prior to Romero's assault on the record books this season - but fouled on his third and final attempt and did not advance to the finals.
"Warm-ups were great and everything, and then I made a mistake," noted Romero. "I was in the ring and the gun went off for one of the races. I should have just waited it out, but I got a little rattled after that unfortunately."
"I'm really excited just to be here," Romero reflected. "The final outcome wasn't as good as I wanted, but it was definitely a fun experience to get here."
Romero broke the UNI school record in the shot put by more than one foot on three separate occasions this year and was one of the most prominent faces in a group of Panther throwers that has re-written the school's record books over the past two seasons.
"I think Justin reminded us all this year that if you work really hard and truly believe in your goals, nearly anything is possible," said UNI head track & field coach Dan Steele. "I will be telling Justin Romero stories to future athletes for the rest of my coaching career."
Following his final meet in the Purple and Gold, Romero heaped praise on Dan O'Mara, UNI's assistant coach responsible for the throwing events. "It's been a blessing with Coach O'Mara," said Romero. "I never thought three years ago when I was throwing 47 feet in the shot put that I'd be able to break the school record three times."
"Coach O'Mara is a genius in what he does. I wish I had more time with him, but the three years that I did have were awesome. I'm glad we got to share this Championships experience with him," said Romero.
Romero will be named an honorable mention All-American by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) for his 19th-place finish.