Archive for Thursday, July 15, 2004

Brown ready for Olympic trials

July 15, 2004

Keep an eye out for Baldwin City's Eric Brown during the Olympic trials. It's hard to say when the javelin competition might be shown, but he throws Thursday and he's ready.

"I'm getting more and more excited every day," Brown said from the University of Arkansas Monday where he had just completed a workout. "It's been fun. I've been cutting back on the workouts to get ready.

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"I think I'm in the best position I can to be in the best position to throw the best I possibly can," said Brown.

Brown, a 2002 graduate of Baldwin High School, had a storied prep career, winning two state Class 4A javelin titles. He chose the storied University of Arkansas track program to continue his career.

After a freshman year that wasn't of note, he came on this year with several sterling performances. That included winning the University of Texas meet, the first time a Razorback had done that since the early 1990s. He also finished third in the NCAA meet to help Arkansas win the national championship. And, oh, yes, that throw set a new Razorback record at 246-3, a mark that had been 241-11 since 1990.

Along the way, he also qualified for the Olympic trials. It will take quite a performance to take the next step to the Games in Athens(?). To advance, Brown would need a top three finish, as well as meet the Olympic "A" standard, which is 80 meters (260-0), well above his metric conversion of 75.07. The only American at that mark is No. 1-ranked Breaux Greer with a toss of 87.39 meters, or 280 feet and change.

Still, Brown likes his chances.

"I think they are good," he said. "I'm healthier now than I was at nationals. I had been training fro college and I didn't have any idea that I'd be doing this.

"Being in a big-time event with the top throwers in the world should help me to throw farther," said Brown.

The junior-to-be enters Thursday's preliminaries as the No. 12-ranked thrower in the field of 26. The top performers from there advance to Saturday's finals. The television schedule for the Olympic trials can be found at www.usatf.org/events/2004/OlympicTrials-TF/TVschedule.asp.

America will be watching from afar, but Brown will have his own rooting section in Scramento, Calif. More than 20 members of the family will be on hand. He won't be alone.

"No, definitely not," Brown said. "Fourteen of my local family are going and a couple of my dad's family are going. It's going to be fun. That's going to add to it."

Jill Brown, Eric's mom, said there isn't an exact count on who all is going, but between her and her husband, Dan, there will be a host of extended family in the stands.

"I believe it's 22 or 23 going between Dan's family and mine," she said. "Dan's sister from Pennsylvania, his mother from Arizona are going and he's got a brother who lives in California that's going. My mom and dad, all three sisters and their families are going. There are two brother-in-laws that aren't going. Somebody's got to work."

For awhile, there was debate about the trip, but that didn't last long.

"I think we definitely wanted to go," said Jill Brown. "I think at first we didn't think we'd go. But one night we decided, that's crazy, we're going. You don't know in four years what will happen. Gosh, you think we'll never know if we don't go. We'll figure out how to pay for it later."

The Baldwin Browns flew out Wednesday. Eric did the same a day earlier. The flights back are Sunday.

"He throws Thursday and hopefully makes the finals on Friday," she said. "We'll find something to do on Friday and come back Sunday."

So, when Brown gets ready to sling the javelin Thursday, it will continue a family tradition and as America watches, he won't be homesick.

"Oh, no, not at all," said Brown. "My family has been so good about coming to my meets in college. It's almost like high school."

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