Wake Forest sophomore surpasses PR by over two meters
Wake Forest sophomore throws hammer Thursday morning
Michael Campanaro and Dearica Hamby named Male and Female Athletes of the Year
Saturday's event will honor Wake Forest's achievements during the 2013-14 season
The junior turns in the third-best mark of his career at a distance of 233-3
Since his arrival in 2012, athletes coached by Sion have accounted for two All-American honors, one ACC meet record, one U.S. Junior National Champion, two NCAA Championship qualifiers, two individual ACC titles, five All-ACC performances, six school records and six NCAA East Meet (First Round) qualifiers.
In 2014, the Wake Forest throwers were able to follow-up what was arguably the best season in school history with an even more impressive campaign. In a deeper and stronger ACC, the throwers were able to account for a higher level of performance highlighted by Jessie Merckle successfully defending her ACC title in the women's javelin. After already breaking her own school record at the Wake Forest Open (51.88m/170-2), Merckle moved the mark again with a throw of 53.94m/177-0 at the ACC championships. Her performance also broke the ACC meet record and was good enough to end the season as the 11th best mark in the NCAA and the 16th best throw in the United States.Merckle's stellar sophomore season ended with two additional championship meets where she competed at a high level. She earned All-America honors (12th/Second Team) at the NCAA Championships in Eugene, OR. Two weeks later as a 19-year-old, and one of the youngest competitors in the meet, Merckle placed 11th at the 2014 U.S. Outdoor Championships in Sacramento, Calif.
Sion helped coach Alyssa Thompson to a third-place finish and All-ACC honors in the heptathlon. Thompson threw a PR in the shot put at the ACC Outdoor Championships and the second-best throw of her career in the javelin helping her earn enough points to take home the bronze medal.
Also scoring for the Deacs at the 2014 ACC Championships were Patrick Donelan (Javelin/4th), Mike Belardia (Javelin/5th), Steve Michaelsen (Indoor Shot/6th), Charlie Ionata (Hammer/6th) and Casidy Callahan (Discus/7th).
Charlie Ionata won the 2014 U.S. Junior Championship in the 6k hammer throw and represented the United States at the World Junior Championships, placing 20th with a PR of 69.92m/229-4. Ionata is the first athlete Sion coached in an international competition and was Wake's first competitor in the World Junior Championships since Andy Bloom in 1992.Sion continues to build a highly-competitive throws group at Wake Forest, not only through the performance of his current athletes, but also through his recruiting efforts. All three of Sion's recruiting classes at Wake have included state champions and All-Americans (T&F News and New Balance). His classes have included three state champions from Pennsylvania, two from Georgia, one from Rhode Island, one from Ohio and one from Tennessee. In his first three seasons at Wake Forest, Sion has signed five throwers ranked in the top six nationally in their respective events.
Under Sion's guidance, the 2012-13 track & field season was arguably one of the best in recent history for the Deacon throwers. As a true freshman, Jessie Merckle became the first female, Wake Forest athlete to ever win an ACC title in any throwing event. Merckle's ACC winning throw of 49.59m/162-8 in the javelin was just under her school record mark of 50.32m/165-1 that she set earlier in the season at the Wake Forest Open.
Including Merckle's ACC performance, the throws squad accounted for one ACC Champion, two All-ACC performers, two school records and three NCAA First Round Qualifiers in 2013. Ben Lincoln joined Merckle in crushing Wake Forest's school record in the javelin with a 75.36m/247-3 bomb. At the conclusion of the 2013 NCAA Championships, Lincoln's mark was the fifth-best throw in the nation and currently ranks him as the second-best javelin thrower in ACC history. Merckle's school record toss ended the 2013 season as the 17th best throw in the NCAA. For the fourth season in a row, Lincoln earned All-ACC honors in the javelin by placing third at the outdoor championships.
In addition to Merckle and Lincoln, Patrick Donelan (Javelin/5th), Erika Martin (Javelin/7th & Heptathlon/6th) and Steve Michaelsen (Shot Put/8th) scored at the ACC Outdoor Championships. Michaelsen and Donelan threw far enough to qualify for the NCAA First Round meet in Greensboro, N.C. in the discus and javelin, respectively.
All of the Wake Forest throwers achieved lifetime personal bests during the 2013 season. In addition to the ACC scorers mentioned above, Nate Wooten competed at a high level during both the indoor and outdoor seasons. Wooten made the final at the ACC meet in both the hammer and weight throw placing ninth, one spot out of scoring.
At the end of the 2013 season, Ben Lincoln and Steve Michaelsen represented Wake Forest at the USA Outdoor Championships. Lincoln finished 17th in the senior men's javelin, while Michaelsen placed 12th in the junior men's discus.
In his first year in Winston-Salem, Sion helped Ben Lincoln break his own school record in the javelin throw twice during the season, with his top mark of 73.23m/240-3 coming at the ACC Championships and resulting in a third-place finish and All-ACC recognition. The 2012 season ended on an equally impressive performance when Lincoln, the Deacons' only participant, represented Wake Forest on the elite national level and placed 14th at the United States Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon. This performance followed the NCAA Championships where Lincoln placed 18th, earning him Honorable Mention All-America recognition for the second straight year.
In addition to Lincoln, two other throwers scored in the men's javelin at the 2012 ACC outdoor championships. In his first year ever throwing, Patrick Donelan tossed the spear 61.47m/201-8 placing sixth, and Trey Blanton ended his career with an eighth-place finish.
During the indoor season, Alex Hill launched the winning throw in the shot put of the heptathlon (13.29m/43-7.25) at the 2012 indoor ACC meet.
Under Sion's guidance, the Wake Forest women's squad made significant improvements in 2012. Senior Sarah Brobeck finished fifth in the javelin at the ACC Championships and sophomore Erika Martin placed eighth.
Prior to Wake Forest, Sion coached for four years at the University of Chicago. He served as associate head coach for track & field/cross country in his final two seasons after being promoted from assistant coach. In addition to his track & field duties at Chicago, Sion served as the department's Director of Strength and Conditioning.
Sion, the 2010 USTFCCCA Midwest Region Women's Assistant Coach of the Year, developed Chicago's throws group into a force on both the conference and Division III national level, accounting for 11 All-America accolades, 23 conference titles and 52 all-conference performances in four short years. His athletes also broke five school and conference records on multiple occasions during his tenure.
Before coaching at Chicago, Sion served a one-year stint as a graduate assistant coach at Idaho State University in 2006-07. While at Idaho State, he coached one Big Sky Conference champion, two NCAA West Regional qualifiers, and one All-NCAA West Regional athlete. The ISU throwers broke three school records including the men's indoor and women's outdoor shot put marks. The men's outdoor shot put record, formally held by Sion himself, was also broken during the season. In addition, 10 athletes -- including his brother Jed -- earned All-Big Sky Conference accolades in the throws or multi-events.
A native of Pocatello, Idaho, Sion threw the shot put and discus for Georgia Tech from 2001-05 and served as the team's captain in 2005. Upon his graduation, he attended graduate school at Idaho State where he completed his athletic eligibility. During his athletic career, Sion was a two-time NCAA Division I championships qualifier and two-time All-Region shot putter, once at Georgia Tech and once at Idaho State. He earned All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors four times and All-Big Sky Conference recognition once. In 2004, Sion was the ACC shot put champion and was named Georgia Tech's Field MVP. At one point, Sion held the Georgia Tech indoor (18.00m/59-0.75), Georgia Tech outdoor (18.11m/59-5), and Idaho State outdoor (18.34m/60-2) records in the shot put.
Sion held the Idaho high school state record in the shot put that he broke in 2001 with a toss of 19.58m/64-3 for 13 years.
In the spring of 2005, Sion was recognized as the recipient of Georgia Tech's prestigious Robert Cup. This award is given annually to Tech's top senior student-athlete. Upon graduation, Sion was one of Georgia Tech's recipients of the ACC Postgraduate Scholarship, a distinction awarded to top student-athletes from each ACC institution.
Sion graduated with highest honors from Georgia Tech in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science in Management. He then earned his master's degree in Physical Education and Athletic Administration from Idaho State in 2007.
In 2013, Sion earned the highest certification offered by both the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) and USA Track & Field (USATF) in coaching education. He is now an IAAF Level V and USATF Level III Coach in the throwing events. In addition, Sion is recognized as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and a USA Weightlifting Sports Performance Coach.
Sion is married to the former Marcela Tunon, a civil engineer working for Hazen & Sawyer in Greensboro, N.C. The couple resides in Winston-Salem with their three-year-old son, Ezekiel, and their boxer dog, Magnus.