The main man of Mesa’s throwing squad


Andrew was one of the top throwers for the Olympians. Photo Credit: Andy Orozco

Kyle Mullin, Sports Editor

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed so much of our normal lives, but for San Diego Mesa track and field thrower Andrew Mitchell, his competitiveness and desire remain the same.

Before spring athletics were cancelled on March 19, Andrew was in the best throwing form of his life. He had achieved a personal record in discus at 45.27 meters and javelin at 51.53 meters to start out.

“This season, I was doing so well,” Andrew said about his performance as he shook his fist in the air in frustration.

At the beginning of the season, Andrew may have shown a little rust with javelin. “I had like a two-month span of not being able to throw jav’ well. I was just on myself.” However, at the Ben Brown Invitational hosted by Cal State Fullerton, Andrew recorded his personal record in javelin and totaled three throws over 50 meters – a distance he had only reached one time previously.

The craving to compete and improve has always been evident in Andrew. He played football and basketball for most of his childhood in San Diego. It was during his sophomore year at La Jolla High School that Andrew decided to “join track on a whim.”

When he first joined, the team had only one other thrower and this senior guided Andrew through the basics of throwing. Moving into his junior and senior year, he worked with different coaches both years, which may have held him back. Nevertheless, Andrew made massive strides as at the end of his senior year, he finished second in discus and top five in shot put in division two of CIF’s San Diego Section.

After graduating high school in 2017, he originally attended Michigan State just as a student. In the most unfortunate occurrence, Andrew’s father passed away during his first semester and he returned home to be with his family.

In the face of this life-changing event, Andrew was determined to stay focused and his resilient character would not fault him. At first, he tried to join the Grossmont College football team. But after a turn of events, Andrew signed up for the track and field team and enrolled at San Diego Mesa College in the fall of 2018.

Since he had not thrown in quite some time, Andrew felt he was inconsistent and was dissatisfied with the results at first. However, Mesa track and field head coach Sean Ricketts saw a lot of potential in Andrew.

“Based on his strength and how he used his body, we knew that he was going to be very good, especially with the discus and javelin,” Coach Ricketts said, “He had all those intangible things in terms of being dedicated, focused and willing to learn.”

A huge positive that came out of Andrew’s freshman year was his trip to the state meet for javelin. It was his first year throwing javelin, as it was not offered at the high school level, yet he placed 10th for the state meet.

Coach Ricketts explained this experience gave Andrew “exposure, experience and basically see what he needed to do [to compete at the top level].”

This momentum carried throughout summer and fall workouts. Andrew came into this season firing on all cylinders before its abrupt ending. Nonetheless, there still are positives to pull out of this season.

Although Andrew admits that he is “not the most dedicated to school,” throwing at Mesa has given him reasons to apply himself more in the classroom. Coach Ricketts said, “On the academic side, he became a lot more focused and really excelled with school.” He is currently working on an associate degree in earth science and is aiming to enter a geology major.

Andrew credits his throwing for better applying himself to school by saying, “Track and field is everything to me. Everything around it is building towards my goals.”

For the time being, Andrew’s goals and future plans are unclear right now, as most of the world is. He has had contact from coaches at four-year universities about joining their squad, but nothing official.

The lack of meets and transition to the virtual world has made the recruiting process difficult. However, Andrew has plenty of time to figure things out with track and field being a spring sport. He is eligible to transfer to a four-year all the way until the spring of 2021 or return to the Olympian throwing squad for a full season.

Whatever Andrew does, his robust mindset will continue to carry him. Coach Ricketts had a final praise for Andrew’s progress. “I am very proud of him. It’s been exciting to see his growth in a short amount of time at Mesa.”