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MailTribune.com
  • TRACK AND FIELD

    Former Eagle Snow primed for NCAAs

    Sophomore javelin thrower is seeded eighth for Oklahoma
  • Garrett Snow is familiar with the adrenaline rush that comes with competing at Hayward Field.
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    • GARRETT SNOW
      WHO: Former Eagle Point High javelin state champion now throwing for Oklahoma.
      • WHAT: The sophomore is the eighth seed in the NCAA championships. He set the Sooners' school record of 232-...
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      GARRETT SNOW
      WHO: Former Eagle Point High javelin state champion now throwing for Oklahoma.

      • WHAT: The sophomore is the eighth seed in the NCAA championships. He set the Sooners' school record of 232-8 in the Big 12 championships a month ago.
      • UP NEXT: NCAA championships men's javelin, 12:35 p.m. today, Hayward Field, Eugene.
  • Garrett Snow is familiar with the adrenaline rush that comes with competing at Hayward Field.
    He was there as an Eagle Point High senior two years ago and set the Class 5A track and field state meet record in the javelin, improving his personal best by an astounding 18 feet.
    Now he can't wait to try it again, only this time for Oklahoma at the NCAA championships.
    The sophomore has evolved into the Sooners' record holder in just his first year on campus, placing second nearly a month ago at the Big 12 championships, then repeating that placing a couple weeks later at the NCAA West prelims.
    Now he's back at Hayward, the University of Oregon facility, where he shined in 2012. The men's javelin is today, the final day of the four-day championships.
    "It feels great," said Snow, who is seeded eighth based on his mark at the West prelims. "I went out and threw (Wednesday) morning. It feels comfortable, like it did before. It's nice."
    Snow has come out of nowhere to be a potential point scorer at the NCAAs.
    After high school, he tried to hook on with a few smaller four-year colleges but drew little interest. He went to College of the Siskiyous in Weed, Calif., and Oklahoma took notice as he was on his way to capturing the community college state title last spring.
    "I was joking with someone earlier that he's the kid almost nobody wanted," said Sooner throws coach Brian Blutreich, a former Olympic discus thrower and two-time national assistant coach of the year.
    Needless to say, Blutreich is thrilled to have Snow.
    Snow bumped the school record to 232 feet, 8 inches at the Big 12 meet, then advanced to the NCAAs with a West prelim mark of 227-4.
    Although the former mark is Snow's best and ranks 18th in the country, NCAA seeding is based on prelim marks, hence his higher seeding.
    "He's actually been better than I thought he'd be," said Blutreich, in his seventh year and with a resume of six NCAA champions and 26 All-Americans. "He's been a pleasant surprise."
    In high school, Snow turned heads when he won the state title on his final throw. He led for most of the competition, got passed in the final round, then retook the lead with an event-closing throw of 205-8.
    Siskiyous sought him out and was rewarded when he elected to go there.
    "From there, I knew I could get to a university," said Snow, "so it felt like a good decision.
    "They've had a very good history of javelin throwers there. It's nice to go to a place where people have thrown well in the past. The coaches are credible and have the tools you need to become a better thrower."
    So, too, does Oklahoma.
    Snow signed with the Sooners shortly after his winning throw of 206-7 in the California championships.
    "He had quite a bit of potential," said Blutreich, adding, "you never know with recruiting how good someone can be."
    Snow was approached by other coaches, but none with Blutreich's credentials.
    "With what he's accomplished, it was a pretty easy decision to go to Oklahoma," said Snow. "I never really pictured myself going that far from home, but it's how it happened. It was meant to be."
    The coach found Snow to be a "sponge," soaking up all the nuances of the javelin — "It's the most technical of all the throwing events," said Blutreich — and working extremely hard in the weight room.
    The 6-foot, 210-pound Snow said he isn't much bigger than he was in high school, but he's a lot stronger.
    "Probably pound for pound, he's the strongest kid on my team," said Blutreich. "He's exceptionally strong. He's wired right. He's not a big kid, but he can do things that are impressive. He's got a lot of God-given ability."
    Sometimes, that's hard to see in high school athletes who don't have the level of coaching available in college, said Blutreich.
    While Snow was under the radar at Eagle Point, for instance, a thrower like Sam Crouser, who competed for Gresham in 2009 and set the 6A meet record of 231-1, was obvious NCAA Division I material. Crouser is now a junior at Oregon, and this week he's seeded only two spots higher than Snow.
    Snow's NCAA goal is to make the finals, which would require placing in the top nine in trials, then score points, which are awarded for a top-eight finish.
    For a distance, he'd like to reach 72 or 73 meters. His PR of 232-8 converts to 70.92 meters, the unit of measure commonly used.
    "I've had some pretty good practices leading up to this," said Snow. "I'm in a good position to hit a PR. Anything can happen, so who knows."
    Top-seeded Chris Carper of Robert Morris and second-seeded Raymond Dykstra of Kentucky are the only two throwers with seed marks of more than 72 meters.
    Snow will be using a longer approach, said Blutreich, rather than the shorter one he's comfortable with. More steps mean more speed, which is a plus, but increased speed could adversely affect Snow's timing at the front of the throw.
    "It's a gamble to do it this late in the year," said Blutreich. "You usually don't change things at his point. But for him to possibly be an NCAA scorer, we're taking that risk. It'll only help him for next year. That's our plan."
    How it plays out is anybody's guess.
    "Everyone starts at zero," said Blutreich. "It doesn't matter what you've done to get here, everyone has to do it on the day."
    The engaged audience for which Hayward is known can be a big help.
    "You have to let the meet bring it out of you," said Snow. "You have the adrenaline but you can't be overwhelmed. You have to be able to take it and use it with the throw. That's what helps you compete. Let the atmosphere of Hayward Field, the history, the big meet, let that bring out the big throw."
    As it's done for him before.
    Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email ttrower@mailtribune.com
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