Mikkola earns Pac-10 athlete of the week
UA junior Esko Mikkola made quite a comeback statement last weekend at the UTEP Invitational.
Coming back from a severe ankle sprain and infection of his wisdom teeth, Mikkola, in his first competition of the season, threw an NCAA automatic qualifier in the javelin with a distance of 238 feet, 2 inches. The throw won the event for Mikkola and earned him the Pacific 10 Conference men's field Athlete of the Week.
"Well, I really didn't think I'd get it," Mikkola said.
Head coach Dave Murray was proud of the his thrower.
"It's always an honor for one of your kids to receive this award," Murray said. "Last week was just a feeling-out process."
The meet marked Mikkola's first contest since July's World University Games in Spain.
Mikkola is still throwing on an ankle that has not quite healed, though.
"I'm pretty happy my ankle is good," Mikkola said. "I'm still careful because my ankle's not 100 percent."
The throw of 238-2 ranks Mikkola No. 1 in the Pac-10 and No. 2 in the nation this season, earning him a berth in the NCAA Championships for the third time in his career.
The mark, however, is still 30 feet short of Mikkola's personal best of 268-7, which he set in winning the 1998 NCAA Championship in Amherst, N.Y.
Murray said he believes Mikkola will return to top form by the end of the season and should vie for the NCAA title once again after finishing second last year.
"He works as hard as any athlete we've ever had," Murray said.
The award marks the second time in a row an Arizona athlete has won the honor. Last week, sophomore Brianna Glenn had the tribute bestowed upon her for her performance in winning the 100-meter dash at the Texas Relays in Austin.
Francisco Merced can be reached at email@example.com.