BEAVERTON, Ore. – The idea that Haley Crouser is the most athletic member of her illustrious family isn’t a new one.
The junior from Gresham (Gresham, Ore.) is an all-state volleyball player and a potential star some day in the heptathlon.
On Friday, she joined her older brother Sam in the U.S. high school record book, throwing the javelin 181 feet, 2 inches on her second attempt at the Aloha Relays. It was one of the first sunny, reasonably warm days of the season in the Portland area and Crouser made the most of it.
After the javelin struck pay dirt, Crouser glanced at the measuring tape and leapt into the air to celebrate the first prep throw over 180 feet. Avione Allgood of Legacy (North Las Vegas, Nev.) held the record of 176-8 for about nine months.
“It was really exciting,” she said. “I’ve been training since November and it’s been a long buildup to this point.”
Haley goes into the record books with Sam (255-4 in 2010) as the only brother-sister combination in history. Throw in cousin Ryan, who broke the indoor shot put and discus records last year, and it’s easy to see why the Crousers have become America’s First Family of Throwing.
All three of the Crousers stand to make some noise at the Olympic Trials in June in their home state.
“Since Sam has (the record) and I have it, it’s just an unreal feeling,” Haley said. “When I was younger I would have never expected this to happen.”
The record throw changed what had been a frustrating hour at the Aloha Relays.
She was entered in the shot put, 100-meter hurdles and javelin – three events bunched close together on the schedule. After a delay at the shot put for the competition to start, Crouser fired off three rushed attempts – all of them long enough to win the event. Meanwhile, she didn’t have enough time to warm up for the hurdles so her coaches made the decision to pull her out of the event less than 10 minutes before it was due to start.
That left her with a bit more time to prepare for the javelin, where she knew she was ready for a big throw.
“I was really frustrated,” she said. “I wanted to run the hurdles. I was looking forward to good competition, but my coach scratched me out of them. I was pretty mad and when I came over (to javelin) I was frustrated and my dad calmed me down. I’m OK with (scratching the hurdles) now.”
The number she had in mind all day: 181 feet.
On her first attempt, Haley took it nice and easy and her form broke down in a couple of spots. Still, it was measured at 166-5. That measurement told her she was ready to do something much bigger.
“I wasn’t sure if I’d get (the record) in this meet or further down to the end of the year,” Haley said.
Now she has the remainder of the season, and all of her senior season, to put the record even farther out of reach.
Dean Crouser, father of Sam and Haley (as well as their coach), said he didn’t know what to expect Friday – but figured it might be longer than 170 feet and less than 190.
“It’s overwhelming,” he said. “I can’t even put it into words yet. I can’t. You had a hunch it was coming and she’s done all of the work. That’s the first thing I said to her: This is (for) all of that stuff that you’ve done. This wasn’t luck, at all.”
A week of training in sunny Southern California during Spring Break also helped her get ready to throw far. In one workout she threw past 50 meters (164 feet) five consecutive times.
After her throw was re-measured with a steel tape and her javelin was taken to be weighed and analyzed, Crouser still had two more attempts. But the emotion of the moment was too much to set aside and find focus again. She took a third attempt that went too low, and she voluntarily put her foot over the line to scratch it. She turned to her family and said she was done for the day.
The next shot at the record, her own, will have to wait until the next competition.