April 4, 2008
Jon Jeffreys doesn't strain to recall his first competitive javelin throw. It was five years ago when the talented high school senior at West Valley High in Spokane Valley, Wash., proficient at throwing footballs, basketballs and baseballs, needed something to do and began tossing a spear across a field.
Rare is the athlete who can land a Division I athletic scholarship after just one previous season of competition but fast-forward to spring 2008. The tall (6-5) and lanky Jeffreys is now a senior and team captain of the WSU men's track and field team.
"I was a quarterback (all-league honorable mention), a basketball guy (all-state and averaged 24 points per game), and a pitcher in high school and honestly I just did track as a filler," he said. "I took to javelin naturally because I throw but it definitely was a different object to chuck around. Everyone thinks it's easy to throw because it looks aerodynamic but its 8 1/2 feet long and everyone forgets that."
Describing his prep form as, "arming it," Jeffreys set the school record of 193-7, placed third in the state meet and went on to finish 11th in the javelin at the 2004 USATF National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships.
As a freshman at WSU, throwing the javelin was still relatively new to him, albeit a huge learning experience but it was, "just fun." He tossed a personal-best of 208-4 and threw at the NCAA West Regionals. Sophomore year Jeffreys opened the season by tossing the javelin 226-2 at the USC Trojan Invite, the eighth-best in school history. He took fifth at the Pac-10 Championships with a throw of 214-6, placed sixth at the NCAA West Regionals with a mark of 217-1, and advanced to the NCAA Championships where he threw a disappointing 197-8 in the prelims.
Last year, as a junior, Jeffreys tossed the javelin 221-10 for first place in the Cougar-Husky Dual Meet, moved up to fourth place at the Pac-10 Championships but slipped at the NCAA West Regionals to 11th. He finished 24th at the NCAA Championships after a toss of 196-1, but with a more determined outlook for his senior year.
"The javelin is still fun for me but it really consumes my life now and it is a huge topic on my mind all the time now. I don't ever not think about it," Jeffreys said. "As a freshman I was just having fun with it. Now I want to do the best that I absolutely can and I'll do everything I can to get to that point legally."
Associate Head Coach/throws coach Debra Farwell and Jeffreys determined they needed to tweak some of his techniques in order to unleash the potential waiting within. They turned to Cougar Head Coach Rick Sloan.
"Last season I went through four completely different technique changes which is really tough during a season," Jeffreys said. "That's why I started throwing in September this year (collegiate javelin guys usually start in December). I had to ingrain this into my system so it is second nature and I don't have to think about it. Now we are fine-tuning points, little things but still important things. I'm excited. I think it will go really well. I am healthy so that is good."
Farwell has seen Jeffreys mature not only as an athlete but also as a young man.
"He has become our team captain and he has taken on that responsibility seriously," Farwell said. "Coach Sloan has helped to rework some of his technique in the javelin this year and it has done some amazing things for Jon physically and mentally. We started that process last year and saw some things develop but we just didn't have enough time to have the techniques settle in. We started again in the fall and Jon's technique has changed tremendously. I think it fits him as an athlete much better. He is much more confident with it. It suits him better and the distances he is throwing now on a consistent level are much, much better. It should be an awesome senior year."
Jeffreys is scheduled to graduate in May with a degree in finance and is ready to begin working in real estate. He and girlfriend Diana Pickler, a four-time WSU All-American heptathlete who is training for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, share the rigors of daily training.
"It's nice having someone who understands the focus you need to take and the determination it takes to get where you want to go," Jeffreys said. "She is very driven and also went through a huge learning curve from her freshman year to her senior year. I'm proud of her. Most of our day is obviously track, that's her job now and a big part of my life. She's at a different level than I am."
As the men's team captain, Jeffreys' first goal for the team is beating the Huskies in the annual dual meet as the top goal for the Cougar men noting, "We haven't beat them since I've been here and I don't understand why. It sucks. Especially when the women beat them every year."
As for himself, Jeffreys foresees a return trip and high placing at the NCAA Championships. "My goal is to walk away at a point knowing that was the best I could do in college. All-American is ideally what I really want. Because I started (throwing) so late, my arm and whole body feels somewhat alright. I learned the proper techniques at the right level (of development). I'm not burned out at all. It's fun. I like it."