In his 32 years at Cal State Bakersfield, Alan Collatz has coached hundreds of athletes. There’s been about 100 All-Americans, dozens of Division II national champions and some that have qualified for Olympic trials.
CSUB sophomore track and field thrower Corbin Chronister reminds Collatz of some of the best he’s seen.
“He has the ability,” said Collatz, the Roadrunners’ coach emeritus. “He has the attitude, the will. ... He wants it as much as I want it.”
Chronister, a Liberty graduate, holds the Western Athletic Conference’s top marks in the discus (172-9) and hammer (204-5) events in his second year at CSUB. He already qualified for the NCAA West Regional meet in the hammer and hopes to do so in the discus.
He set personal records for the hammer, discus and shot put in the first several competitions of the year.
“It definitely was an eye-opener,” Chronister said of his early-season performances. “Especially the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (on March 22) meet when I went out there and I threw the 204 (feet, five inches) in the hammer. I’m like, ‘I’m going somewhere with this.’”
The hammer is Chronister’s best event, he believes, and also the most fun. The hammer throw goes the farthest, after all.
He picked it up his junior year in high school even though it is not sanctioned by the CIF. He would practice on his own time with his father, Rod, who is also Liberty’s throws coach, about once a week.
The only hammer competition for Chronister to compete in was the California High School Hammer Championship, which he won in 2016.
Now, he gets to work on at almost every week and at almost every competition. Chronister broke 200 feet for the first time with his personal record at Cal Poly.
“He’s bought into my system and I think he has a good understanding of it,” Collatz said. “I can tell him a couple things that he understands and he knows how to get his body to produce that movement.”
The discus is a close second in terms of enjoyment for Chronister and possibly even success. The best throw of his career came at the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational on Saturday, surpassing 172 feet.
Chronister’s best throws in the hammer and discus are more than 11 and 13 feet better, respectively, than the WAC’s second-best marks. He is ranked third in the shot put with a farthest throw of 53-2.25.
The Cal Poly meet was Chronister’s best of the year so far, Collatz said. Chronister reached more than 200 feet in three out of four throws in the hammer. He also set a then-personal record in the discus and the shot put. In the discus, Chronister followed up a big throw from the competitor immediately before him with an even bigger mark, Collatz said.
“It’s very difficult to do well at all three events at the same time,” Collatz said. “Usually one is hot, one is OK and one you’re struggling in. It’s really hard to do well in all three. Something’s going to give. And that’s why we haven’t put a lot of pressure on his shot put. That’s the one we practice the least.”
Since coming to CSUB, Chronister has made tweaks to his technique, like keeping his feet tight so he can build up speed, and strides in the weight room. He maxed out at 125 kilograms for three repetitions on the bench press as a freshman. He has done 145 kilograms this year.
Chronister will “definitely” be one of the strongest athletes to ever come out of CSUB in terms of overall lifting, Collatz said.
There’s at least one more thing that Collatz and Chronister are working on to be more like the CSUB greats.
“As a coach, you can tell them what you’re doing wrong, but unless they can feel it, there’s not that connection for success,” Collatz said. “I had a guy years ago, Arnaldo Cueto, who was a national champion. He can come up to me after a bad throw and say, ‘I know what you’re going to tell me Coach. I get it. I’m going to fix it on this one.’
“That’s kind of the relationship we’re going to work on and by the time (Chronister’s) a senior, I’m confident we’ll have that.”