Freshman Ralford Mullings adds to legacy of ASU’s track and field throwers

Dubem Nwachukwu exits the starting blocks in the men’s 400 meters during the Baldy Castillo Invitational on March 17 at Sun Angel Stadium. (Photo by Susan Wong/Cronkite News)

ASU’s Athing Mu, center, kicks off her outdoor season with a 1:24.13 in the 600 meters at the Baldy Castillo Invitational. The time is already second-best in the U.S. (Photo by Susan Wong/Cronkite News)

TEMPE – With dominating national champions Turner Washington and Jorinde van Klinken on its roster of discus and shot put athletes, Arizona State’s track and field program already had laid claim to the title “ThrowsU.”

Now, freshman Ralford Mullings has served notice that the Sun Devils won’t be relinquishing that title anytime soon.

In the first two home meets of the outdoor season, Mullings uncorked two of the longest discus heaves in school history, joining the already stacked lineup under throws coach Brian Blutreich.

First, Mullings unleashed a toss of 204 feet, 11 inches in the Baldy Castillo Invitational on March 17, ASU’s first meet at Sun Angel Stadium since the pandemic erupted. It was the second longest throw in school history, second only to the 217-4 ¾ throw Turner unleashed just last year.

It wasn’t a fluke. Mullings followed that performance up with a throw of 208-4 in the ASU Invitational last weekend, inching closer to Washington’s all-time ASU mark. It is the second best throw in the country this season, behind only California freshman Mykolas Alekna’s 218-10.

“He’s a very talented young man and has worked really hard this past fall to fix his technique and get better,” Blutreich said of Mullings. “For your first meet as a collegiate in the discus to throw that far is pretty amazing.

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“I’m super excited to see what he does in the future. We don’t know what the ceiling is yet for Ralford. First college meet ever, No. 2 all-time behind Turner Washington is pretty amazing. That’s a really far throw for a true freshman.”

Blutreich praised Mullings for the work he has put in since arriving in Tempe from Kingston, Jamaica.

“We’ll see how he’s training,” Blutreich said. “He’s a workaholic, a student of the sport; everything you look for in a young man. For him to come from Jamaica to here to the Tempe area has been a big change for him, but he’s really adapted well. I think the sky’s the limit for him.”

Mullings was just happy to get the chance to compete in front of a home crowd and kick off the outdoor season at Sun Angel Track.

“I feel great, coming out here and getting the win, 62.47 (meters), that’s a great mark,” Mullings said of his performance in the Baldy Castillo Invitational. “Great step in the right direction. I’m appreciative of the fans coming out and showing their support. The stepping stone is being consistent at that number, and getting a bigger mark and bigger throws throughout the season.”

He did just that in the ASU Invitational, bested his personal record again.

“I just try to get in my own zone, get in my own rhythm,” Mullings said. “I just attack the throw, and that’s how I compete. I’m really thankful to have the crowd come out and support us. That’s my way of competing.”

Mullings adds to the wealth of talent that Blutreich has assembled, headlined by Washington and van Klinken, who won 2022 indoor national championships in the men’s and women’s shot put, respectively.

Turner is one of only three athletes in NCAA history to win a national championship in indoor shot put, and outdoor shot put and discus in the same season. He did it in 2021 and now has four national championships in all after the 2022 indoor shot put victory. One of the other two athletes to sweep the indoor shot, outdoor shot and outdoor discus in a season is ASU thrower Ryan Whiting, in 2010.

Meanwhile, van Klinken added the 2022 indoor shot title to her 2021 national outdoor championship in the discus, where she broke a 21-year-old meet record with a throw of 213-3 at Oregon’s Hayward Field.

Turner and van Klinken’s 2022 indoor titles are the 24th and 25th individual national champions Blutreich – a 1992 Olympian in the discus – has coached during his career as an assistant coach at ASU, Oklahoma, North Carolina and Santa Barbara.

In the first two home meets of the outdoor season, freshman Ralford Mullings unleashed two of the longest discus throws in Arizona State school history, joining the already stacked lineup under throws coach Brian Blutreich. (Photo courtesy of ASU Athletics)

Washington and van Klinken are his biggest current stars. Washington has won 12-straight collegiate shot put events, including the indoor nationals.

Van Klinken claimed bronze in the indoor shot put in 2021, then beat the field by about 4 feet in 2022, shattering her personal record by more than 4 feet and coming a quarter-inch away from tying the ASU record (63-0) held by Magdalyn Ewen.

“It feels really good to have both the discus and shot put titles right now,” van Klinken said of the indoor performance. “Honestly, my training hasn’t been going well until this past week, and then I started throwing absolute bombs in practice. So I knew I was ready.

“I was excited to hopefully throw a national record here, but we knew the 19-meter throw was possible, and even the 20-meter. So hopefully we’ll see that outdoors.”

Blutreich is only looking for improvement from his throwers from meet to meet and practice to practice.

“It’s getting back to work. We’ve got to be ready in May and June” for the Pac-12 Conference and NCAA Outdoor National Championships, he said. (We are) just trying to get training consistent, lifting consistent and keep improving. It’s a repetition and training sport. Now we know where we’re at … know what we need to work on and can go from there.”

Under Blutreich’s guidance, “ThrowsU” entered the second weekend of the outdoor season with multiple athletes in the nation’s top 10. Beatrice Llano ranked second in the hammer throw and Shelby Moran 10th. Moran recorded a personal best in the hammer throw with a toss of 219-4, moving her into fifth all-time in the ASU record books. Also, Mya Lesnar and Ian Schultz each are ranked among the nation’s top 25 women and men in the shot put.

After the two-year absence from Sun Angel Stadium, the Sun Devils returned without missing a beat. The Sun Devils are scheduled to return to action at the Stanford Invitational April 1 and 2 before hosting the Sun Angel Classic on April 7 through 9 at Sun Angel Stadium.

Alex Suarez ah-lek-s swaa-rez (He/Him/His)
Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Alex Suarez expects to graduate in December 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism. Suarez, who has covered ASU athletics for WCSN, is assigned to the Phoenix sports bureau.

Susan Wong soo-zin wah-ong (she/her/hers)
Sports Visual Journalist, Phoenix

Susan Wong expects to graduate in May 2023 with a master’s degree in mass communication. Wong, who earned a bachelor’s in sports journalism in May 2022, is a digital media intern with Sun Devil Athletics.