Freshman international student kicks first year off with a record

Freshman international student kicks first year off with a record

Freshman international student kicks first year off with a record
April 17
13:11 2019

Two years after picking up a javelin for the first time, North Texas freshman javelin thrower Zion Hill has made promising strides during his first year with the Mean Green. Hill, an international student from Bridgetown, Barbados, broke the school record for javelin throw with a score of 69.15 meters on March 28 in the Texas Relays. The record was previously owned by senior thrower Javier Lopez-Ibarra after scoring a mark of 66.55 meters.

“It meant a lot because the new record was the first goal that I set for myself this season,” Hill said. “So, I’ve already gotten one of my goals out of the way and on to the next one.”

Similarly, to Hill, Lopez-Ibarra is an international student and hails from Mexico City, Mexico. This season will mark his third season with the Mean Green. When asked about Hill’s work ethic, Lopez-Ibarra praised his hard work on and off the field.

“He’s always trying to improve something that will make him throw farther,” Lopez-Ibarra said. “He’s very consistent in trying to fix something.”

Earlier this semester, Hill placed second in the Wes Kittley Invitational on March 16 in his first meet with North Texas. Hill recorded a 64.85-meter throw, 5.02 meters behind the first-place title. Recently, Hill was able to garner first place after throwing for 64.09 meters at home in the North Texas Classic on Saturday, April 6.

“He’s an easy-going guy, obviously he’s extremely talented so sometimes it can blow you away with the best he can be,” throwing coach Brandon Kelso said.

Lopez-Ibarra talked about how big of an impact he had on players and encouraged them to be the best they can be.

“He plays an important role, he’s always trying to tell us what to do better,” Lopez-Ibarra said. “He’s always giving his 100 percent in everything we do – I think he can help us a lot”

Lopez-Ibarra commented on Kelso’s new practice methods and exercises and how he saw Hill adjust in this atmosphere compared to Barbados.

“I think he has had to adjust, from what I’ve seen it’s different from the way he used to practice in Barbados,” Lopez-Ibarra said. “I think he will be able to fully do everything really well and understand why we do everything we do.”

Hill  was introduced to the sport by a friend back home in Barbados. Hill’s friend made him a deal —  he threw for 50 meters, he had to start training javelin for the school. Hill threw for 55 meters that meet in the Barbados secondary schools’ athletic championship. Hill was inspired by his throwing coach and Kelso made a big impact in his decision to attend North Texas, according to Hill.

“I think in general with all athletes having a good relationship with them is important where they can trust me and I can trust them,” Kelso said. “When [Hill] first landed, I tried to get to know him a little better to kind of make it a little beyond throwing.”

Despite Hill being an international student and not a citizen of the United States, the only thing he has had a problem adjusting to has been the different climate.

“The only thing I would say I had a problem with was the weather,” Hill said. “Back home 73 was the coldest it got pretty much, so going from that to training in 35-degree weather, training pretty much hurt. But other than that, I settled in pretty well.”

Hill stresses his relationship with his throwing coach, but not solely refined to the practice and competition field. Kelso has had an impact on Hill outside of throwing the javelin, according to Hill.

“He helps me with my relationship with God, I actually go to his church,” Hill said. “That helps a lot, to keep my faith and grow especially with throwing and competing because we can’t really do it without God.”

Hill’s immediate goals revolve around pushing himself further to the 70-meter mark. Reaching that mark would qualify him for NACAC U23, a set of competitive track and field games between North America, Central America and the Carribean that focuses on those under the age of 23. Before that, though, Hill wishes to qualify for regionals and nationals.

Hill said he is appreciative of his supporters back home who were there for him before he left for college. Friends, family and coaches all mean a great deal, according to Hill.

“I want to thank everyone back home in Barbados who give me support as well as the people here who drive me every day,” Hill said. “I wouldn’t be able to get it done without knowing that they got my back.”

Featured Image: Zion Hill. Courtesy Mean Green Sports.

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Matthew Suarez

Matthew Suarez

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