Frketich claims national title - just barely
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.