The Newberg youth sets another personal record to win the Junior Olympics javelin competition by one inch
GREENSBORO, N.C. Having already won her fifth Junior Olympics javelin state title and a regional title, as well as setting a new state age-group record, Newbergs Lala Frketich had just two goals remaining as she headed into the final meet of what has been a magical season.
All that remained for the 12-year-old was to win a national title and improve her personal best throw, therefore putting a little more distance between her and whoever will chase her state record in the future.
Frketich went 2-for-2, claiming the top spot and setting a new personal mark with her throw of 113 feet, 5 inches Thursday at the USATF Junior Olympic national championships at North Carolina State A&T, but it wasnt easy.
It was a lot more intense than any other meet weve been to and a lot more pressure on the girls because there were a lot of eyes, Frketichs father and coach, Len, said. It was great to come, a great experience.
The No. 2 seed entering the event, Frketich stood in fourth place entering the finals and had just fallen to fifth before her second-to-last throw, as top-seed Charlotte Maher of San Diego, Calif., jumped all the way from seventh to first with a throw of 112-9 on her fifth attempt. In doing so, Maher leapfrogged co-leaders Maura Huwalt of South Park, Pa., and Koi Johnson of La Marque, Texas, who had each thrown 106-7 in the preliminaries.
In response, Frketich uncorked her biggest throw to add 3 feet and 7 inches to her state record.
The good thing is that twice in a row in competition shes stepped up and made a big throw and took over the competition, this one especially because she was way behind, Len Frketich said. We could have left with a fifth, but she really sucked it up and on that next to last throw, got a really good throw off.
Frketich held the lead, but the competition was far from over.
Ashlyn Aguilar of Socorro, N.M., gave Frketich a run for her money on her final attempt, but came up just short at 113-4. In metric measurements, the difference between the two was just one centimeter, 34.56 to 34.55.
The win actually came as a shock to Frketich, as she and her father had misread Mahers throw to be 34.83 meters when it had been 34.38.
Pretty upset thinking she had fallen just short of a national championship, it wasnt until Frketich was congratulated by one of the judges that she realized she had won. Even then, it took a little time for it to dawn on her what the judges gesture actually meant.
I was a little shaky, Lala Frketich said. The first three throws werent too hot, but when I got to the finals, I knew I had to do this. I needed to just jump to first place and I did. I just had that one big one. It was a great way to end the season with a PR and winning the national title.
The meet was the last for Frketich using the mini-javelin or turbo-javelin used by children 12-and-under. It weighs 300 grams compared to the 600-gram implement she will now use for the rest of her career.
Frketichs older brother, Hap, threw 144-1 to place 13th in the boys 15-16 javelin competition, which took place in very hot and humid conditions Sunday. Mike Biddle won the title with a throw of 175-9.
It was a great year, Len Frketich said. Lala hit her goals, Hap really came on and threw a lot further than I think we thought he could and (sibling Branko) did the same in discus. Were already planning for Houston next year.