By RAMA PEROO
Two of the top throwers in the history of the Cowley College women’s track and field program, Courtney Gougler and Jamesia Milton, are on their way to the International Highland Games Federation Women’s Amateur World Championships in Windeck, Germany, on August 20.
In the fall of 2021, Milton and Gougler competed in the IHGF Women’s Amateur National Championships, where Milton was named the national champion, and Gougler earned the bronze, qualifying them both for the IHGF Women’s Amateur World Championships.
“Most people don’t know what the Highland Games are, at least not until we tell them we wear kilts and throw telephone poles,” Gougler said. “While cabers aren’t as big as telephone poles, they are still pretty intimidating. At the Arnold, a major strength competition in Ohio, Jamesia and I had to attempt to throw the biggest caber that I’ve attempted at 17’6” and 75 pounds.
“The goal is to flip it end over end, one time and have it land at 12 o’clock. This is just one of the nine events we do when we compete in Highland games. We throw 28 pound weights for distance and height, stones/rocks that can weigh 130-plus pounds, hammers from 12 to 16 pounds, and a 10-pound burlap sack that we throw for height by flinging it off a pitchfork.”
Gougler, who was inducted into the Cowley College Tiger Athletic Hall of Fame earlier this year, still holds the school record in the hammer throw (149-2) and was a two-time national champion in her one year at Cowley as she was the indoor national champion in the shot put and outdoor national champion in the discus.
Gougler went on to compete for two seasons at Wyoming before spending her final season at Oklahoma State University. At OSU, Gougler competed in the shot put, discus, hammer, and weight throw and was an NCAA regional qualifier.
Gougler returned to Cowley College where she spent seven years as a throws coach. She coached five national champions, including Milton, in the 2014 indoor weight throw.
At Cowley, Milton was named an indoor and outdoor NJCAA All-American and was crowned the school’s homecoming queen. She went on to compete at Wichita State University, where she was the Missouri Valley Conference champion in the weight throw and set the school record with a throw of 66-10.
“Our throwing background has really helped us be successful in the games,” Gougler said. “It is quite a unique experience competing against one of your fellow athletes, especially when she beats me all the time. The competition between us is a lot of fun.”
Milton, who is the current world record holder in the lightweight (14 pounds) for distance event, never imagined competing against her former coach.
“It’s awesome to see her giving her all and not coaching,” Milton said. “I’m excited about the opportunity to travel overseas, site-see, and meet new faces.”
Gougler said the Highland Games are definitely a community of its own.
“The support, encouragement, and camaraderie is what we love about the games,” Gougler said. “We are hoping to hit a few new personal bests, compete with some of the best in the world, and you never know, we may come home with some hardware; regardless, we are looking forward to an incredible opportunity and the chance to compete at a very high level.”
To help with their trip to Germany, Gougler and Milton are running a fundraiser through Make a Champ, a platform that helps athletes compete. Individuals can donate money or leave words of support. To donate, please go to https://makeachamp.com/cjhighlandthrowers.