E.A. Sports Today

Making her point

[corner-ad id=2]In only her second full season with the javelin, Young has high hopes for Junior Olympics

Rising White Plains junior Grey Young throws the javelin during a high school meet earlier this year. (Photos courtesy of Krista Young)

Rising White Plains junior Grey Young throws the javelin during a high school meet earlier this year. (Photos courtesy of Krista Young)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Grey Young gets “really, really excited” when she reflects on just how far she has come throwing the javelin.

The first time she ever tossed the thing she hit herself in the back of the head with it, sending it twisting through the air and landing noisily about 15 feet away. Everyone laughed.

Well, nobody’s laughing now. In fact, once they saw her in action, even more experienced throwers started to cheer her after this somewhat slight slinger started out-throwing them.

And now – next Saturday, in fact – she’ll be chasing a national championship at the USATF Junior Olympics in Jacksonville, Fla.

“I never thought I’d get this far when I first started throwing,” the White Plains junior said.

She’s not just another face in the field; she has a real chance to make a dent. Young is seeded 27th among the 53 throwers in the girls 15-16 division. Her goal is a top 20 finish and a 100-foot throw, which would eclipse the school record. The top eight receive medals.

That’s pretty heady stuff for someone who literally just picked up the event a year ago on a whim.

Young ran on the White Plains 4×400 relay team as an eighth grader and liked the aspect of being on a team, but she also wanted an event that would push her individually. She tried all the other field events, but they just weren’t doing it for her.

Finally, she saw a random javelin lying on the ground and gave it a throw. Ouch.

“The first time I threw it I hit myself in the back of the head,” she said. “I was used to throwing it like a softball, which is the farthest thing you want to do. Eli (Hightower) told me that and I didn’t listen; I thought I could do it.

“I let it go and it did a couple different turns in the air and made a ding sound when it hit the ground. I tried to laugh it off because Eli was laughing at me. That’s when he started helping me on my technique.”

Hightower wasn’t laughing at her, but with her; he truly could feel her pain. The same thing happened to him the first time he threw the javelin — and he went on to win the event at the Calhoun County Meet this spring.

“It takes a lot of practice,” Hightower said. “I just tried to show her a little of what I do, but she’s really good at what she does so I try not to change her stuff very much. You can tell she really has fun and is good at it, so you know she practices all the time.”

Once Young got the hang of it, she discovered she was pretty good at it. She improved some 25 feet her first year.

Even those early trials were beating more experienced throwers. Don’t let her atypical build for the event fool you like it did some of her early competitors she quickly turned into fans. What she doesn’t have in size she makes up for in technique, and that’s really the secret to success in this event.

She has gone to the state high school meet each of the last two years. She was first or second in every regular season meet this season, silver medalist in both the County Meet and Class 4A Sectional Meet, and finished ninth at the State Meet. Nobody’s laughing now.

“She’s kind of a secret weapon,” said Krista Young, the Wildcats’ track coach and Grey’s mother. “She’s like 5-6, 120. When we get in there they’re like, ‘Oh, we’re going to beat her by 20 feet,’ and it surprises them when she throws. We have a video and they’re cheering for her when she won.”

Grey earned her way to Jacksonville by finishing second at the state JO meet at Samford with a best throw of 88 feet, 11 inches and third in the regional meet at Middle Tennessee with a personal best 95-8.

This coming school year she plans to run cross-country in the fall, play basketball in the winter and is thinking about picking up the discus in addition to her javelin in the spring. The school record is 99-11.

“I’ve been trying to break the school record since the beginning of track season,” she said. “I think my goal for this year would be the break the school record and hit 110 and medal at the state. I have high hopes.”



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