LA CROSSE, Wis. – Competing in his first national meet, freshman Jake La Grand finished 15th in the javelin at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse on Friday.
La Grand started the competition with a throw of 159 feet, 5 inches (48.61m). La Grand improved on that mark, going 177 feet, 10 inches (54.20m) in his second throw, and 188 feet, 9 inches (57.53m) in his final attempt.
"It feels great," La Grand said. "Before the competition was when I was at my best. I was feeling relaxed and comfortable and throwing well. Just didn't translate to my actual throws."
After the preliminary round completed, La Grand fell 14 feet short of qualifying for the finals.
"It's just going to come with a lot of practice. A lot more experience and a lot more being around javelin and bigger events. It's my first couple of months doing this and it's definitely hard. I think I just need to come out next year and do better," La Grand said.
"This is his second best meet he's had," assistant coach Kate Shear said. "I think he did pretty well. He was a little disappointed that his practice throws might have been a bit farther. But this is a high-level competition. For his experience, I think he did really great."
An appearance at the national meet puts a cap on an impressive freshman campaign for La Grand. He broke the school record in the javelin on May 11 with a throw of 205 feet, 1 inch (62.52m). La Grand took first place at the Pacific Preview meet on Mar. 10 and finished sixth at the Northwest Conference Championships.
"The biggest takeaway from this year is just the mental side of the game. Really being able to relax and do what I know how to. Come back with a lot of training. A lot of more body specific training. Mind training as well," La Grand said.
"I think having this experience is huge for him. Just the fact that he has been at this meet, he knows what he has to expect in the future. Knows how to prepare on the mental side of competing at this level will be huge for him next year. I have no doubt that he will be back," Shear said.
La Grand also plans to be back next year as well.
"It was awesome. Even though it might not have gone my way, it's just awesome to be able to be out here with the best. And be able to know that I am doing well. I didn't do as good at the end, but it's a blessing. A really fun experience," La Grand said.
La Grand was one of three competitors from the NWC competing in the javelin on Friday. George Fox senior Seth Nonnenmacher took first place with a throw of 241 feet, 11 inches (73.75m). Andrew Bloom of Whitworth finished third with a throw of 216 feet, 9 inches (66.07m).