TACOMA — When Brandon Bach joined the Mountlake Terrace track and field team as a freshman last spring, he saw himself as a sprinter.
Fifteen months later, the 5-foot-7 sophomore is a state-champion javelin thrower.
Bach claimed the 2A boys javelin title with a throw of 187 feet, 10 inches Friday during Day 2 of the state track and field championships at Mount Tahoma High School.
“I’m still in shock right now,” Bach said shortly afterward. “I don’t know what to say.”
Bach finished one foot ahead of second-place Cheney senior Brock Winegar, who took an early lead with a mark of 186-10 on his first preliminary throw. Bach surpassed that on his second preliminary throw, earning a mark that held up through the finals to give him the state championship.
“For a little sophomore, we can’t complain,” Hawks coach Russ Vincent said afterward with a laugh.
As usual, Bach was the shortest competitor in the field. But he’s combatted his lack of height with strength, technique and quickness.
“That’s the thing about this event — you don’t have to be big,” Vincent said. “You need some good strength, you need quickness, you’ve got to have some rhythm and know how to throw that thing straight.”
Bach first attempted javelin shortly after joining the team as a freshman. He quickly developed an affinity for the event, which became his primary focus by the season’s midway point.
“I mainly joined (track) for running, but javelin just kind of caught my eye,” Bach said. “When I started throwing it, my coach saw it in me that I could probably go somewhere with this.”
After throwing a season-best 160-6 last year and capping his freshman campaign with a fourth-place finish at district, Bach made major strides in the javelin this spring.
He entered Friday as the top-seeded thrower in the 2A field with a season-best mark of 188-11, which he threw two weeks ago at the sub-district meet. That ranks as the 40th-best mark in the nation among high school throwers, including fifth-best among underclassmen and third-best among sophomores.
Bach credits his improvement this spring to both Vincent and Archbishop Murphy assistant coach Fred Luke, a former Olympian who took eighth place in the javelin at the 1972 Summer Games in Munich. Luke noticed Bach during a meet earlier this season and has been giving him pointers for the last month.
“I sort of got enamored with him when I saw him,” said Luke, who was in attendance for Bach’s state title Friday. “I saw his technique and I said, ‘Boy, this is a guy I’d really like to help encourage and give him a few more feet.’
“The phenomenal thing is the rhythm that he has,” Luke added. “It’s just so rare to see that in (high school). He’s got a tremendous rhythm. So you put some other stuff together with that and you’re going to get a really good thrower.”
Mountlake Terrace moved down one classification to 2A this season, but Bach’s winning throw Friday also would’ve given him the 3A state title. Ferndale’s Ben Broselle claimed the 3A crown Thursday with a mark of 183-10, which was four feet shorter than Bach’s championship mark.
“Moving to 2A definitely made it a little bit easier, (so) I knew I had it in me to at least go to state,” Bach said of his mindset entering this spring. “I really didn’t expect to win it, though. It’s kind of surreal.”
Adding to the excitement of Bach’s success this season is the fact that he’s only halfway through his high school career.
“I’m definitely looking to improve this next year by a lot,” Bach said. “So it’s going to be interesting to see.”
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