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The long and the short of it

Records are great, but setbacks help keep Pettner pointed in javelin career

Records are great, but setbacks help keep Pettner pointed in javelin career

June 20, 2007|by ANDREW MASON

Allen Pettner knows all about near misses and big tosses.

As a sophomore at Hagerstown Community College in 2005, he finished second in the javelin throw by a few centimeters at the NJCAA national track and field championships. As a senior at Penn State University this spring, he won his second straight Big Ten javelin title with a conference-record and personal-best throw of 239 feet, 9 inches.

It's the big misses and short tosses that Pettner, a 2003 James Buchanan High School graduate, would like to forget.

But he can't. And that might be a good thing.

"That probably gives me the most determination right now," said Pettner, who will compete this weekend at the 2007 AT&T USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Indianapolis.

Pettner was seeded third in the javelin at the NCAA Division I outdoor championships earlier this month in Sacramento, Calif. But he finished 16th in the preliminaries with a throw of 207-8 and failed to advance to the finals.

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University of North Carolina teammates Justin Ryncavage and Adam Montague wound up taking first and second in the finals with throws of 241-5 and 236-1.

"It was very disappointing, especially knowing that if I had gone out and thrown decently, I could have won," Pettner said. "It was just a bad day. I still don't know what happened.

"I had a pretty big disappointment last year, too (not even qualifying for the NCAA championships)."

He can make up for those disappointments this weekend.

"This is the biggest meet of my life, by far," Pettner said. "Big Ten is a big thing, but I've been waiting to be recognized at the national level."

The top three finishers this weekend can advance to the IAAF world championships in Japan later this summer if they've met the "A" standard - 265-9.

Pettner is seeded 12th out of 24 with his 239-9. Olympian Breaux Greer is seeded first with his American-record 297-7.

"Greer is basically untouchable right now," Pettner said. "But second place is in my reach. My goal right now is to go out and throw anywhere from 250 to 255. I know I can throw that right now. I'm back on my game."

Pettner has already met the "B" standard (229-8) for next year's U.S. Olympic Trials, which most likely will get him in. The "A" standard of 252-7 is needed for automatic qualification for the Trials.

The "A" standard for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing is 268-4.

"I think that if I put everything I possibly can into training for the Trials, that I'm definitely capable of making the Olympic team," said Pettner, who's set to graduate from Penn State this December with a degree in wildlife science. "I know where I am this year and what I have to do next year. Each year, I keep getting a little better with my fitness and my technique."

At James Buchanan, Pettner was twice the Mid-Penn Conference champion in the javelin. He placed as high as second at the PIAA District 3 Class AA meet and fifth at states, and he still owns the school record (184-5).

"We needed a javelin thrower my sophomore year, so I gave it a try," Pettner said.

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