Love Litzell promised himself it would not happen again. Not after all he had been through. His struggles in the weight throw his freshman year. The excruciating second-place finish by one centimeter in the MAAC Indoor Championships in his sophomore season. And especially not after being stripped of a chance to avenge himself last year when he missed the entire season with an injury.
So as Litzell headed into his final weight throw at the 2017 MAAC Indoor Championships recently, he could only think of one thing.
“I had just one shot left to bring it home and I was just like, ‘There’s no way I’m going to lose this again,’” Litzell said. “This is my year now.”
Litzell did just that, unleashing a throw of 20.11 meters to win the first MAAC Indoor title of his career. The win is the latest feat in a remarkable career that has already placed Litzell among the greatest throwers in the Manhattan College program. Litzell currently ranks fourth all time in school history in the hammer throw, his strongest competition, where he has twice won the IC4A Outdoor Championships and twice qualified for the NCAA East Preliminary Round.
After gaining an extra year of eligibility because of a foot injury last season, Litzell has a chance to cement his legacy even further.
“With the hammer, I think in the long run, he has a good chance of breaking the school record as a fifth year senior next year,” said Dan Mecca, Manhattan College’s track and field coach.
But if Litzell continues his progression in the weight throw, he might just find a place in the record book there as well. This season, Litzell has won five competitions and finished in third place in another. Litzell has struggled in the past in the weight throw, making this year’s victories that much more satisfying.
“My first year I was terrible,” Litzell said. “I’d end up dead last in every meet and I hated it.”
Litzell’s struggles during his freshman campaign were due mostly because of the novelty of the event. Litzell had never participated in the weight throw back home in Sweden, so it took some training by Mecca to master the competition.
“Freshman year he did well but the 35-pound weight was something he had never seen, never mind thrown before,” Mecca said. “So I think that was a huge transition for him.”
The results in 2017 show that Litzell has made that transition yet this season wasn’t supposed to go this way Litzell believes. Coming off of an injury that cost him all of 2016, Litzell just wanted to prove that he could still perform at a high level, so that come time for the 2017 Outdoor season he could pick up where he left off in the hammer throw.
“This year was more of like trying to get back into it and I think I’ve gotten that and then some already,” Litzell said.
But Litzell has exceeded his expectations.
“I’m not surprised at all,” Mecca said. “His work ethic is amazing. His goals are very high. Actually the biggest surprise I have is how quickly he’s come back.”
Litzell got out of a walking boot in March 2016 and less than a year later he has dominated the weight throw competition. And as Litzell racks up victories, he continues to bare one thing in mind - this isn’t even his strongest competition. The hammer throw, where he’s made a name for himself, starts in less than a month.
“I can walk into most places now with a really strong confidence in myself, knowing that I beat all these guys in the weight and I know that I’m better at the hammer than I am at the weight,” Litzell said. “That just fuels my confidence going into outdoor season because that’s where I want to do some really big things this year.”