WACO, Texas – A 28-year-old school record was toppled Friday on the first day of the Michael Johnson Invitational. The record – a javelin mark set in 1991 by Rodrigo Zelaya – was the third-oldest outdoor record in the Texas Tech program. 
 
Now atop the record book stands Werner Bouwer, a junior from Tzaneen, South Africa, who launched a 243'-0.25" (74.07m) on his second throw in Waco Friday. It was good for a first-place finish by nearly 40 whole feet. 
 

"It's an honor to finally get the school record," Bouwer said. "It is something I have been working really hard for and it is very humbling."

Bouwer's record-breaking distance is even more impressive considering the journey he has taken to get here. In his Tech debut he launched a 236'-9" (72.16m) on his second throw as a collegiate athlete. The distance carried him to the NCAA West Preliminary and counted as the eighth-farthest in program history. At the regional, he placed eighth to earn a spot in the javelin field at the NCAA Outdoor Championships as a freshman. He also picked up a Big 12 Championship along the way.  
 
Poised to improve upon his 17th-place finish at the national meet, the then-sophomore suffered a setback when a bulging disk held him back all season. Though he competed throughout that 2018 spring, he failed to top 70 meters despite doing it four times his All-American freshman year. He did not make the cut at regionals to qualify for nationals. 
 
"The last two years have been very challenging for me," Bouwer said. "My sophomore year had me really down when I suffered two bad injuries just before and during the season." 
 
"He would have thrown 70 meters last year," said throws coach Cliff Felkins. "That bulging disk pretty much killed the year."
 
When his health returned last summer, Bouwer needed to make sure his strength was at a level that could help him return to the national championship level he knows he can throw at. 
 
"I decided to work extremely hard over the summer and the fall coming into this season," he said. "My goal was to be as strong and healthy as possible to put me in position to throw far." 
 
Bouwer opened his 2019 season at 229'-3" (69.87m) – his farthest throw in two years. The distance was enough for an easy win at the Wes Kittley Invitational. Though a few feet short of his distance at ACU, his mark of 225'-9" (68.80m) was still encouraging, as it was farther than anything he recorded during his injury-riddled 2018 season. Bouwer's first 70m throw in two years came April 6that Texas A&M's The Reveille when he went 233'-8" (71.22m) for the silver medal. 
 
Friday night's monstrous mark – the first time a Red Raider has ever thrown over 74 meters – came on his second throw of the meet. In addition to the school record and feelings of hard work paying off, Bouwer's distance places him fourth in the country and will almost surely qualify him for the NCAA West Preliminary in late May. 
 
"I feel extremely ready for the rest of the season," Bouwer said. "Coach Felkins and I are working hard on cleaning up my technique for our coming meets. There are big things to come this season for me and Coach Felkins."
 
"The whole point of the season is to improve along the way," Felkins said. "It's like an unfinished book. He's a talent and he's young, so we're trying to mature him as a person and mature technically, and when that happens it'll all come together." 
 
Bouwer was joined in competition Friday by a small group of other field competitors. Dorleta Armendariz-Lasa led this group, coming just nine inches from a season best in the hammer throw with a top mark of 178'-10" (54.50m). She remains seventh in the Big 12. 
 
Texas Tech's second day at the Michael Johnson Invitational will get started at 11:30 a.m. with the discus. Tech's runners will be in action beginning at 1 p.m. Live results will be available here.