After Kord Ferguson’s third throw in the discus event at the USA Track and Field Junior Outdoor Championships hit 201 feet July 5, the recent Ottawa High School graduate and his family knew he could wrap up the win, and the emotions followed.
“We were sitting in the bleachers all together and we just cried,” Kishawn Ferguson, Kord’s mother, said. “We were very excited.”
Kishawn Ferguson, along with her husband, Bryan, and daughter, Brynn, were on scene to witness Kord’s historic throw — a throw that recorded the 10th-longest distance in the world this year among athletes 20 and younger, and the fifth-longest throw in U.S. history among high school students, Bryan Ferguson said.
“The old record in Kansas was 195 feet, so it was the longest throw in the history of Kansas,” he said.
Kord was confident after he saw his distance on the board at Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon in Eugene.
“I knew it was big because they’ve got the meter lines out there and everybody’s going over the 50 meter line, but under 60,” Kord said. “So my third throw I went out and it was over 60 meters, and I knew that was big. When it comes up on the board right there in front of you, it said 61.28, so that was 201 feet even and then I knew. I was like, ‘I think that’s going to win it.’ I still had three more throws, but I felt confident and I was so excited.”
The throw won him first place in the event among male athletes and the opportunity to represent the U.S. in the 8th International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Junior Championships July 22-27 in Eugene. Ferguson and the second place discus finisher, Ryan Njegovan, East Sandwich, Massachusetts, are expected compete on the U.S. team with 89 other athletes from across the nation against youths from 212 nations in the meet.
And it will take the family back to Hayward Field, which the Fergusons said was an attractive site.
“We’ve never been to the west coast before,” Bryan said. “It was beautiful out there. The weather was beautiful and there were big trees. [The University of Oregon] campus was a nice campus, and it’s an old campus.”
The campus made for a memorable experience, Kord agreed.
“It is definitely some of the nicest facilities in the country,” he said. “It was definitely the biggest place I’ve ever thrown at or been to. I said in an interview that the Kansas Relays was probably the biggest, nicest meet I’ve been a part of and this was on a whole different level. It doesn’t even compare. It was phenomenal.”
Kord leaves Friday, he said, and throws July 25 at the competition.
“I’m staying in the dorms and I’ll have a roommate,” he said. “So I’ll eat in the cafeteria with my teammates and do activities as a team.”
Kord also threw in the shot put event at the USATF championships, finishing seventh. The future Wichita State University Shocker has been competing in the two events since he was in middle school, Kishawn Ferguson said.
“When he was in middle school, Joe Tokarz was his first coach and he started throwing with him and had some success,” she said. “He really enjoyed it, and he enjoyed other sports as well. He seemed to be a pretty seasonal athlete. He enjoyed football during football, basketball during basketball, track during track. But he had a lot of success [throwing] in middle school and just continued to stay with it.”
“He enjoyed the shot put more than the discus because he was undefeated in middle school, so he had big success there,” Bryan Ferguson said. “He didn’t win every meet in the discus, but when he got to high school, right after his sophomore year, he really started developing a good technique and really started showing a huge success. He was No. 7 all time after his junior year in both events in the state of Kansas and he really started practicing more in the discus.”
That practice earned Kord a sensational high school track career, which includes twice being named Gatorade Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year for Kansas, and a state meet record this year in discus.
However, Kord was not the only member of the Ferguson family out competing on the OHS track team this year. Brynn Ferguson, an incoming OHS junior, competed in the long jump and sprint events for the Cyclones alongside her brother.
“That is probably largely in part why she continued to stay in track,” Kishawn Ferguson said. “She wanted to see her brother through his senior year and be part of his track team his senior year. She is just as much of a champion of him as we are. She is just as proud of him. They both have amazing heart with family, friends, this community, the school district, coaches all across the board. We couldn’t have been more blessed to have raised them here.”
OHS was happy to have him. Brad Graf, OHS activities director, made the opening comments during a reception for Kord Thursday at Pizza Time, 208 S. Main St., Ottawa.
“It is a tremendous opportunity to have a young man like Kord represent Ottawa High School,” Graf said. “Kord not only excels as an athlete, but as a leader.”
He’ll be taking his leadership to Wichita State University this fall and competing on the Shocker track team.
“I think Wichita was a perfect fit for me,” he said. “I wanted to be close to home, but a place where I could still be on my own. I still want the family aspect of it for them to be able to come and watch, and be able to come home in two hours if I need to.”
His family is excited to be nearby too.
“We are going to be able to see a lot of those meets if not all of them,” Bryan Ferguson said. “We are looking forward to him being there so we can see him compete.”