When it comes to determining just how much a Monmouth College student learns in four years, there’s not a precise measuring system. Graduates, for example, don’t go back and take the same ACT test they did in high school to see how many points higher they score.
So it’s hard to quantify exactly how much Jake Nysather, a senior chemistry/biochemistry major from Sterling, has learned since he first set foot on campus in the fall of 2009.
What can be measured, however, is his progression as a Fighting Scot athlete.
Nysather was a run-of-the-mill track athlete at Newman High School, throwing the shot put 36 feet and the discus 120 feet. He was so average, in fact, that he was not recruited to compete in track in college.
But under the expert guidance of Monmouth’s track coaches – including this year’s national assistant coach of the year, Brian Woodard – Nysather has blossomed. Despite the fact that the college shot put is four pounds heavier than what he threw in high school, Nysather now heaves it 45 feet, and he throws the one-pound heavier discus 130 feet.
But it’s in his signature event, the hammer throw, where Nysather has really come on strong. Since the hammer is not a high school event, he didn’t launch his first one until he arrived on campus, and the result was quite underwhelming – 90 feet.
Undeterred by that low mark and by a broken ankle that sidelined him just as his freshman season was getting started, Nysather has rebounded to become the second-best hammer thrower in school history, trailing only All-American Zach Wilson. Nysather’s best throw is 169 feet, 6 inches, putting him second on the Scots’ honor roll in the event.
“You have to really take care of your body,” replied Nysather, when asked what he’s learned to help him improve so much during his Monmouth career. “I’ve also spent a lot of time studying the great ones – shot putters like Reese Hoffa and Christian Cantwell – to see what they do. And then I watch film of myself and look to modify what I’m doing and improve. Being able to make big throws is about hitting positions in my progression. I’m a rotational thrower, and it gets really technical.”
Do something wrong, Nysather said, and a throw will easily lose 5 to 10 feet or, worse yet, result in a foul. Have it all come together, and the result could be a trip to the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships, which is the senior’s goal. He figures he’ll need to post a distance of 181 feet, meaning he’ll need to add a little more than 10 feet to his best-ever mark.
Being technical and precise carries over to the classroom, where Nysather is a two-time Academic All-Midwest Conference honoree. He plans to attend medical school at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn., with the goal of becoming an orthopedic surgeon.
“It will take four years of school, then three years as a fellow and five years of residency” before the end result is achieved – doctor of osteopathic medicine.
“I knew I wanted to go med school,” Nysather said of his pre-college plans. “I came in taking all the general science classes, and while I was taking chemistry, it really clicked.”
He said he chose Monmouth after receiving a good impression as a fan of his high school girls basketball team, which played a supersectional game at Glennie Gymnasium.
“I really liked the campus, and when I came down for an official visit, I enjoyed the atmosphere,” he said.
Being a Newman student, he also was well aware of the Welty family, which has strong ties to both schools. “They answered all my questions and were very helpful” during his decision process, he said.
When not being challenged by Coach Woodard to improve his technique, Nysather says he is regularly challenged by MC’s chemistry faculty. He has particularly enjoyed “Integrated Laboratory,” an upper-level course that brings together all the elements that chemistry students have learned so far, including “writing, presenting, conducting experiments and research.”
Some of that research has been conducted on peroxidase enzymes, under the guidance of assistant professor Brad Sturgeon. He has also done some investigative work on platelet-rich plasma treatment as part of a group project, and is enjoying his Citizenship class, “Green Initiatives.” While studying sustainability, he is part of a group that is working on “do-it-yourself” soap and detergent.
“A lot of doors have opened for me at Monmouth – a lot of opportunities,” Nysather concluded. “That definitely includes athletics, my fraternity (Phi Delta Theta) and my major. The further along I’ve gone, the more doors have opened.”
And maybe, before he’s through, a door to this year’s national meet in LaCrosse, Wis.