JAVELIN FEELS FINE FOR FIRST-TIMER

May 22, 2002 11:00 pm
BEST IN GOL: Skyler MacDonald, in his first year throwing, won a Greater Oregon League championship this year in the javelin for La Grande High. (The Observer/PHIL BULLOCK).
BEST IN GOL: Skyler MacDonald, in his first year throwing, won a Greater Oregon League championship this year in the javelin for La Grande High. (The Observer/PHIL BULLOCK).

By Pat Perkins

Observer Staff Writer

Throwing a football was easy for Skyler MacDonald, so what about throwing a javelin?

The La Grande High School junior's parents wanted him to try, and when he did earlier this spring, he surprised just about everyone outside of his throwing range.

At his first meet ever, the Carnival of Speed April 5 in Milton-Freewater, he threw the spear 169 feet, 2fi inches.

"I'd only been throwing for two weeks. The coach was very surprised, and so was I. That was pretty much the first time I threw the javelin."

That throw alone would have gotten him ninth place at last year's Class 3A state meet.

The season got better three weeks later, at the Kiwanis Invitational in Hermiston. MacDonald had his best throw of the season, 180-9, to win the event.

"That was awesome, that 180," he said.

He hasn't lost all season, with his throws sticking in the 169-174 range. Part of his inability to throw farther has been his technique. At first, he had none, but as the season has progressed, MacDonald has figured out how to throw a javelin as opposed to a football or baseball.

"My first time, I just threw it. Now I have a full approach, my marks and everything," he said.

"There's still a lot he has to master, especially power position," said Joe Brogdon, an assistant coach at the high school and a former javelin thrower himself. "He's got the long pole, he's 6-foot-5, he's strong, he has enough going for him and has pretty good control of the javelin. There's still a lot he can clean up."

Part of the problem, as MacDonald sees it, is how he throws.

"When I throw, my knee bends, and the javelin angle goes up and just throws sideways," he said. "I have a habit of bending my knew because I played baseball." In baseball, he said, you bend your knee when you pitch because you want to angle the ball down.

"If I get everything just right, I'll be fine."

"Fine" would be a 200-foot throw this weekend. That's what he's hoping for, and that would probably win him a state title. MacDonald threw 169-7 at the Greater Oregon League meet last weekend, and that seeds him 10th. Seven of the throws ahead of him are in the 170s, however, and the top throw at districts was 185-4, by Cottage Grove's Aaron Schwartz.

A 200-foot throw would surprise a lot of people, but then all of MacDonald's throws this season have done that.

"My parents are very surprised. Everyone in school was surprised. I'm even surprised myself."