By Mike Maltais
Track officials are still looking for the javelin that Sarina Williams threw to a winning distance at last month’s 2015 Down Under Championships in Australia.
Williams, 18, the daughter of Renee Williams and Pete Burris of Twisp, and a 2015 graduate of Liberty Bell High School, finished first among seven female competitors in the 18- to 19-year-old age bracket with a throw of 114 feet, 4 inches. While that effort was sufficient by 20-plus feet to win against the Aussies and fellow Americans, it was still 18 feet short of Williams’ school record of 132 feet 8 inches set last April 21 at the Liberty Bell Invitational Track and Field Meet. The new distance broke the previous record of 120 feet 4 inches set by Ashley Perrow in 2007.
A three-sport (track, volleyball, basketball) athlete at Liberty Bell, Williams is the third LBHS student to travel to the Down Under Games and the first to return with a first-place medal. Previous competitors included Jacob McMillan, wrestling, 2014, and Liam Daily, cross-country running, 2012.
Williams actually received her invitation from the Down Under organization during her junior year, but a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her knee not only sidelined her from varsity sports for the season but also rendered Williams unable to participate internationally. Down Under extended the invitation into 2015 so the new school record holder could still compete.
Williams still had to clear a major money hurdle to raise the requisite $4,500 to cover trip expenses to Australia. Fundraising dinners at the Twisp Eagles (Aerie 2584) where her parents are members, solicitation letters to local businesses and private donations raised the bucks, and Williams departed Seattle-Tacoma Airport on July 6 for a stopover at Los Angeles on the first leg of the trip. There she joined other members of the American team for the 15-1/2-hour flight to Sydney. Once at Sydney, the athletes traveled another near-600 miles to the Queensland capital of Brisbane and the Gold Coast campus at Griffith University.
While preparing for her own July 12 competition debut at the Queensland Sports and Athletic Centre, Williams witnessed a reminder of her own injury of the previous year.
“I met this girl from Oregon who was competing in the shot put and discus,” Williams said. “But the day before her event she landed wrong during discus practice and broke her foot.”
Williams noted a couple of differences between javelin competition stateside and throwing in Australia.
“There was a dashed line a few feet back from the foul line on the javelin runway,” Williams said. “After completing your throw, you had to back up and pass that first line in order for your throw to count.”
“Unlike competing locally where you walk partway down the field to retrieve your own javelin, at Down Under the field staff brought your javelin all the way back to you,” Williams added.
Now back in the Methow, Williams is making preparations to depart for Eastern Washington University in Cheney in mid-September. EWU was one of several colleges interested in Williams’ athletic potential.
“I chose Eastern because the coach told me I can throw the javelin for their track team,” Williams said. “I want to major in biology and eventually become a physical therapist.”
Before she leaves for EWU Williams plans to help Liberty Bell senior Andrew Reggiatore with his javelin technique and will also lend a hand with the varsity volleyball players.