James Rowland (Jacksonville Northside) is not just a top-flight shot put and discus thrower, as he has two other events in his repertoire.
Fans of track and field should be very familiar with the two most common throwing events, the shot put and the discus. Those that have watched the decathlon at higher levels of the sport will also be aware of the javelin throw, which is not contested in high schools in North Carolina. You would have to follow collegiate or professional track & field very closely to have much experience with the final throwing event, the hammer throw, also not contested in our state. The last two throws, along with the weight throw indoors, are still available for competition for those athletes dedicated enough to seek out the equipment and training needed to learn them.
The javelin throw is the most unique of the throwing events, and it requires a completely different skill set than any of the other throws. To begin with, you get a running start for this throw, and then it requires significant shoulder strength and flexibility, as well as strength and power in the core. Check out the photos below of NBN javelin champ Michael Shuey (Johnsonburg PA, photos by Dan Schierer).
The hammer throw, along with the indoor weight throw, is a rotational throwing event, although the balance and footwork are very different from those used in the discus or rotational shot technique. The hammer is essentially a shot put on a wire with a handle at the other end, and the thrower has to spin in circles to generate speed before releasing at the correct moment. Balance, lower-body strength, and a powerful core are required to maintain control of the rapidly-rotating metal ball through three to five complete rotations. The sequence of photos below will give you an idea of the movements involved; they are of the national leader in the event, Avana Story (Woodward Academy GA).
If you want to pursue one of these less-common throws here in North Carolina, your options are somewhat limited. Both the hammer and the javelin require large fields, and local schools often will not assume the liability that comes with two of the more dangerous throwing events (not to mention the continual damage to the grass that these implements can cause). Several North Carolina track clubs have a program for young javelin throwers, focusing on AAU or USATF competition, but the numbers seem to dwindle by the time high school comes around. The Pride Track Club, centered in the Jacksonville area, and the Asheville Lightning seem to be the only two groups to invest time and money in training for the hammer throw. It seems like an experienced coach with some resources could set up a base of operations in the center of the state and find numerous athletes willing to try new things (in much the same way that the Throw1Deep club has been a huge success in the Atlanta area). Here is a brief look at some of the throwers from our state that have sought out the extra challenge of learning these lesser-known techniques.
Colin comes from a family of throwers, having learned from his father, and he currently travels to South Carolina regularly to train with his brother. Colin threw the hammer 186' 3" to lead the state in that event, ranking 23rd nationally (and 2nd for sophomores). For comparison, his brother Ryan, now throwing for Coastal Carolina, had a PR of 197' 9.25" in high school. Colin will be one of the top 10 returners in both the shot and the discus next year, and he still has two years to improve in all three of this throwing events.
The Apex student-athlete threw the hammer 115' 4.75" to lead the state, although only she and Samantha Layko (Croatan) even attempted the event. She has begun throwing the javelin this summer, with a best mark of 92' 8" so far. Brianna is one of the top returners in the discus, as well.
The "mystery woman" of the North Carolina throws scene, Courtney only competes in the javelin. She is the state leader in that event, however, with her mark of 120' 9.5". The rising junior from Wilson Christian, which does not field a track team, also threw during summer track last year.
James has thrown the javelin 160' 10", leading the state in that event, and he has also thrown the hammer 168' 7.5" this year. That makes him the best all-around thrower in the state, as it is rare for throwers to excel in the rotational throws and in the javelin. Like Colin, throwing runs in the Rowland family, as father Michael is the head of the Pride Track Club and also assists at Northside High School. James is a rising senior and will be one of the top 5 returning throwers in North Carolina in both the shot put and the discus.