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The Georgetown College duo of John Michael Mayo and Derek Sword will compete in the NAIA National Championships on Thursday, May 22nd in Edwardsville, Illinois.The Georgetown College duo of John Michael Mayo and Derek Sword will compete in the NAIA National Championships on Thursday, May 22nd in Edwardsville, Illinois.
Mayo, a freshman, and Sword, a senior, have a lot of similarities. Both are natives of Pikeville, both compete in the javelin and both are basically self-taught in their sport. But you would never know the duo had not been formally trained, as both have continued to hit marks better than most of their counterparts from NCAA Division I schools.
Sword, who's brother, Jacob, also competes in the same event, literally self-taught himself how to throw and then helped train his brother and his brother's friend, Mayo. The former high school quarterback was known for throwing long passes so throwing a hand-me-down javelin from a former coach seemed comfortable from the beginning. "My old coach competed in javelin and had an old one lying around and he gave it to me to try out. It was during my freshman year at Georgetown and I really just enjoyed pushing myself and training myself to get better and better at it."
Sword fondly remembers his first track meet when he "just didn't want to embarrass" himself or his teammates and says that his success has been steadily climbing to the point of competing with the best of the best. "My goal was to make it to the national championships so everything after that is gravy."
Mayo, who won the event at the conference, set a new conference record along the way of 58.62. Both student-athletes were invited as individuals to compete in a meet held at The Ohio State University after doing well at the University of Cincinnati's meet earlier in the season. At Cincinnati, Mayo took second with a throw of 55.17 and Sword was third after throwing 53.49 meters. They competed against schools including the University of Cincinnati, Miami University (OH), Xavier University, Morehead State University and Eastern Kentucky University.
"It's really pretty neat to think that you could train yourself to compete as this level," said Sword. "It just takes a lot of dedication and pushing your own boundaries."