National javelin tour was enlightening
Baldwin City Signal Editor
For Baldwin's Eric Brown, the whirl-wind national javelin tour is over, but he sure enjoyed the ride.
Brown, the just-graduated Baldwin High School senior who is headed to the University of Arkansas' national-power track team, took part in a series of competitions that pitted him against the best javelin throwers in the nation. The two-time Class 4A state champion held his own, finishing third, fourth and seventh in the meets.
While he learned a lot from those competitions and was pleased with his performances, the itinerary that took him to California twice and North Carolina once was what he enjoyed best.
"It was the most fun I've ever had," said Brown. "I've never done track in the summer. I've always played baseball and we'd go to Emporia and places like that. But here I was on both coasts, flying all over the country.
"We weren't just there for the competitions, either. We stayed in each place four or five days," he said. "We went to the beach. I had a good time, other than the track meets."
That means there was more to it than track. He did enjoy the meets, too, and soaked up the competition. The first meet was the Golden West Invitational Track meet in Sacramento, Calif., on June 8 where the top 10 high school athletes in each event were on hand. Brown finished third there, throwing 191-10. The winning throw was 196-10.
Then it was off to the east coast on June 15 for the adidas Outdoor Championships in Raleigh, N.C. There he finished fourth with a 198-3 heave. The last on the list was the United States Track and Field Junior Nationals in Palo Alto, Calif. Unlike the other two meets, this wasn't limited to high school athletes. Brown threw 189-0 to finish seventh, but that was second among high school throwers.
The whole tour was an eye-opener to the competition he'll be facing from here on out.
"Absolutely, yes," said Brown. "I threw against a lot of the kids that I'll be throwing against next year."
It became clear to the slender javelin thrower that he'd progressed through the early stages of his sport as he should have, but now it's time to add another ingredient.
"I've always heard it's important to get the technique down first, then hit the weights," said Brown. "I've been throwing the javelin for four years, so I've got the technique now. I'll be hitting the weights all year long in college.
"I've improved 20 feet every year," he said. "I've gotten pretty good with the technique, now I just need to get stronger."
As for the competition and the meets, the national taste he got during the tour is much different than what he experienced in high school.
"It is absolutely, completely different," said Brown. "At all of our high school meets there were kids throwing 100 feet and had no business being there. A lot of times, it was just me and Hugh (Murphy, his BHS teammate who is headed to Brown University to throw the javelin) who were really throwing.
"The KU Relays were different, but every other meet we were out in the middle of a field and no one knew where we were at," he said. "At these meets, we're throwing in the middle of the track. The stands are full of people. We're escorted around by officials. It's just totally different."
Also at the last meet, Brown got to watch the professionals throw. He's well aware of the of the gaudy distances that others throw the javelin. This year's U.S. Track and Field Championships were won with a throw over 280 feet. The record is 323 feet. Brown saw first hand what it will take.
"I got to watch the professionals throw," he said. "This last meet was the most fun because of that.
"I'm definitely looking forward to college," said Brown. "Javelin throwers aren't like shot putters, but they do have to be strong. I'm very inspired to get in the weight room. I am looking forward to next year."