LIMA, Peru – Sam Houston State made some noise on the international stage on Friday when Joshua Hernandez claimed the gold medal in the hammer throw at the 2017 Pan American Junior Championships.

Hernandez earned his way onto Team USA in late June with a win in Sacramento, Calif., at the USA Track and Field National Championships, winning that title with a throw more than 36 feet further than his nearest competition.

The sophomore-to-be excelled once again in Lima, winning with a throw of 72.55 meters, a toss more than half a meter better than Miguel A. Zamora Hernandez of Cuba who finished second.

“This is a big deal for Josh and our program,” Bearkat track and field coach Dave Self said after Hernandez’s victory. “This means he is the best hammer thrower under the age of 20 in all of North and South America. And he is going to do nothing but get better.”

Hernandez was one of two hammer throwers on the roster for Team USA, and was even elected by his teammates to represent the team by carrying the American flag at the event’s opening ceremonies. The Junior Pan American games consists of athletes from North and South America, along with the Caribbean and Central America.

His journey to Lima began in New Orleans at the Southland Conference championships where he finished second, advancing on to the NCAA West Prelims in Austin where he posted a new personal best. That effort in Austin sent him to Eugene, Ore., where he was one of just two freshmen to qualify for the junior national championships with a ninth-place finish at the NCAA Championships.