It’s shaping up to be an interesting year for the Eagles. Winthrop baseball was picked to finish third in the Big South Conference, men’s basketball is on a winning streak and the women’s tennis team was recently chosen for the ITA Kickoff Weekend in Nashville. But with all the buzz surrounding the popular sports, one of the most game-changing pieces of news has flown under the radar.
In an announcement over the holiday break, track and field coach Ben Paxton revealed that two of the nation’s top throwers would be joining the 2019 lineup. The world-class duo includes Jacob Furland on the men’s team and Ambar Nunez for the women’s team, recruited from Providence Classical High School in Rhode Island.
Earlier last year, Furland and Nunez had made several official trips down to Winthrop. Since then, word has been spreading throughout the athletics department, and excitement has been growing after it became public that the two athletes had gotten the attention of throws coach, Brett Best.
“Coach Best got to see them this past summer,” Paxton said, “and he started working with them to come to Winthrop.”
Part of the excitement comes from the level of experience these athletes bring to the Eagles: Furland is currently rated as the 35th greatest track prospect in the nation and managed to earn the title of Rhode Island State Champion in 2018, coming in seventh in indoor weight throws.
“Of course, it’s rare to get to the national championships,” Paxton said. “He’s going to be the kind of person that can really bring attention to the division.”
Nunez brings quite a lot of her own accolades to the Eagles; she finished in the top 20 in the nation for both hammer and weight throws, following a phenomenal season at the Rhode Island Divisional Championship where she placed fourth in hammer throws—her best yet.
Time will tell how well the two will be able to perform for their new home at Winthrop. Furland will have to transition to a higher weight class, using collegiate weights as opposed to the high school weights he previously threw.
Regardless, the prospects look good. Providence High School has been consistently putting out exceptional talent in throws for years, and Winthrop has had previous success with the Rhode Island institute. In 2013, the Eagles recruited Marthaline Cooper from the school and fostered a fruitful relationship with her. Cooper was All-American four times in the hammer throw throughout her career at Winthrop and a six-time Big South Conference champion. She graduated in 2017.
Furland and Nunez seem to be following in the footsteps of Cooper, and are the next in a seemingly fruitful relationship the department is building with Providence High School. The students themselves seem excited to make Winthrop their new home.
“They were looking for schools in the south,” Coach Paxton said. “They want warm weather.”
In any case, the department hopes Furland and Nunez will rise up to continue the legacy of Cooper and lead to even more talent in the future.