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Western Oregon's Amanda Schumaker, one of the nation's best in the javelin, seeks one final prize

MONMOUTH -- Tossing a javelin never really resonated in Amanda Schumaker's mind as something she could do to accomplish big things -- at least not in her early days at Gladstone High School.

Western Oregon’s Amanda Schumaker is a three-time All-American in the javelin throw. She wants that honor one more time — but unlike the previous three years, in the form of a national title.

Photo by Pete Strong

Western Oregon’s Amanda Schumaker is a three-time All-American in the javelin throw. She wants that honor one more time — but unlike the previous three years, in the form of a national title.

April 03, 2013

MONMOUTH -- Tossing a javelin never really resonated in Amanda Schumaker's mind as something she could do to accomplish big things -- at least not in her early days at Gladstone High School.

Seriously, though, how many 18-year-old kids dream of shattering collegiate records in the javelin?

Soccer, now that was Schumaker's sport, she'll tell you.

"I loved playing soccer and that was my first choice -- if I was even going to do a sport, it was going to be soccer," she admitted.

But before she graduated from high school, something changed: Schumaker got really good at throwing the sharp-ended spear, and she threw it so far she nearly won a state title.

As the now three-time All-American thrower from Western Oregon prepares for her fourth-straight trip to the NCAA Division II outdoor track and field national championships, it's probably safe to say that the javelin has changed her life.

"No, I don't think they knew," the senior said with a laugh, answering the question of if WOU's track and field program knew exactly what it was getting when she chose to attend the small university in Monmouth.

"I didn't even know -- I had no idea because out of high school I got second in state, which is OK. But I didn't really know where it would take me. Once I did well my freshman year (of college), it all started coming together that this could really be a big thing in my life."

Schumaker didn't start too small her first collegiate season: she not only qualified for the national meet, she finished sixth.

As a sophomore, she made it again, but placed eighth.

Last season, Schumaker not only shattered the previous WOU record by four feet (158 feet, 11 inches), she won her first Great Northwest Athletic Conference title and then saw the national title slip away to a familiar foe: Seattle Pacific's Brittney Aanstad, whom Schumaker defeated at the league championships.

Schumaker placed third, just behind Fort Hays State's Makayla McPhail, who took runner-up honors by 2 feet.

She smiled when asked how it felt to be topped by Aanstad, a senior in 2012.

"Her winning that was well-deserved -- very well-deserved," Schumaker said. "Me and her had been going back and forth ever since I was a freshman. Obviously, I wanted the national championship -- or even second -- but I was like, I still have another year, she doesn't. She had an amazing throw -- it was like a 6-foot PR, which is unheard of -- so yeah, I was really happy for her.

"But at the same time, (now) it's my turn."

Schumaker hasn't wasted any time showing her skill this season.

She hit a provisional mark in her first meet of the season at the Willamette Preview in March, followed by her second-straight victory at the Oregon Preview March 16, where she threw her season-best -- and Division II leading -- mark of 154-8.

She won her third meet of the season Saturday, capturing the Stanford Invitational javelin title with a throw of 147-11.

What may be more amazing to outsiders is that Schumaker isn't just beating other Division II opponents.

She's topping athletes from schools the likes of Oregon, Stanford, Washington and other Division I schools -- and she's doing it despite the fact that Western Oregon does not have a true javelin coach.

For the most part, Schumaker is on her own.

"We do not have a (javelin) guru," ninth-year head coach Mike Johnson said. "I love the event, I work with her some and we look at what (WOU strength and conditioning coach Cori) Metzgar can do in the weight room, plus she uses the experience that she's had with her high school coach."

Schumaker admits that had she gone to a bigger program, she probably would be throwing even further.

Amanda Schumaker is a three-time All-American javelin thrower for the Wolves.

Photo by Nicole Watkins

Amanda Schumaker is a three-time All-American javelin thrower for the Wolves.

But the community health major, who is set to graduate this spring with plans to enter nursing school afterward, said that doesn't mean she would change anything.

"I would be a better thrower, but I don't know if I would appreciate it as much as I do being here," Schumaker said. "I really do appreciate my accomplishments and what this school has given me.

"It's hard, but I coach myself," Schumaker said. "I do what I need to do to get better and I know what that is."

With qualifying out of the way, Schumaker now has her eyes set on two things: a new PR and that elusive national title.

Johnson thinks she may just be getting started in the event.

"She's just really starting to get into her talent," he said. "It's really only been the last couple of years where she's starting to understand the event from a real technical standpoint. She's probably one of the most complete throwers that I've ever worked with or been around."

Schumaker, while mulling over ideas of continuing the event on the professional level after college, just wants to enjoy it -- for now.

"I'm going into this year not expecting anything or reaching for any mark," she said. "I'm just going to have fun, do what I love -- I love throwing the javelin, it's my passion.

"Whatever happens, happens."

AMANDA SCHUMAKER BY THE NUMBERS

158-11 -- Schumaker's career-best in the javelin, a mark she set at the 2012 Long Beach State Invitational. The throw is also WOU's all-time record.

6, 8, 3 -- Those are Schumaker's places at the NCAA

Division II outdoor track and field national championships during her freshman, sophomore and junior seasons, respectively, making the senior a three-time All-American.

3 -- Javelin event wins so far this season, including victories at the Oregon Preview and the Stanford Invitational. Schumaker's winning throw of 154-8 at the Oregon Preview gave her an automatic-qualifying mark to her fourth straight national meet.

JAVELIN LEADERS

So far this season, only four athletes competing in NCAA Division II have hit the automatic qualifying mark in the javelin. Here are their ranks:

154-8--Amanda Schumaker, sr., WOU: Schumaker placed third at the 2012 national meet with a throw of 158-5.

154-5 -- Makayla McPhail, jr., Fort Hays State (Kan.): McPhail was the 2012 runner-up at nationals, edging Schumaker by 2 feet.

152-3 -- Mary Riley, jr., Central Missouri: Riley took fourth in 2012 at the national meet, edged by Schumaker by less than an inch.

151-7 -- Sara Dunkin, soph., Emporia State (Kan.): Dunkin placed ninth at the 2012 national meet as a freshman.

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