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June 2, 2020

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Spring Back: River’s McCarthey became first three-time javelin champ

Columbia River thrower dominated sport statewide in early 1980s

2 Photos
Columbia River's Tracey McCarthey capped off her amazing prep career with her third state javelin title on May 27, 1983.
Columbia River's Tracey McCarthey capped off her amazing prep career with her third state javelin title on May 27, 1983. (Files/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

On May 27, 1983, Columbia River’s Tracy McCarthey became the first three-time state champion of the girls javelin. McCarthey went on to star at Arizona State.

This is the story from her third state title in 1983.

Tracy McCarthey wrapped up her three-year domination of the girls javelin as Southwest Washington throwers showed everyone else how it’s done during the state high school track and field meet this weekend.

Saturday, Evergreen’s Doug Edwards came from behind late in the Class AAA competition to win the gold medal with a toss of 197 feet, 5 inches at Pacific Luthern University.

One day earlier, Columbia River’s McCarthey wrapped up her prep career and Camas’ Shelley Sanford emerged as the possible heir to her throne as they won the AAA and AA girls titles.

McCarthey unleashed a 162-11 effort best runner-up Gig Brown of Evergreen and nail down her third consecutive state javelin title. That distance broke the AAA state meet record and is the best nationwide by a high school girl this season.

Meanwhile, Sanford surprised her coaches and herself by winning with a toss of 144-4. Her mark is five feet farther than McCarthey’s gold medal effort her sophomore year.

While Sanford’s win was a shocker, McCarthey’s was expected by most prep track followers. And just as it has been all season, Evergreen’s Brown applied the competitive pressure.

On the second throw of preliminaries, Brown rifled a 153-0 effort to take the lead. McCarthey responded like a champion though, hurling her best throw on the next try. Those two mark held up through the rest of Friday afternoon at No. 1 and No. 2.

“Gig was throwing well today, and I was trying to get another good one,” McCarthey said. The winning toss “wasn’t a good throw, but I put a lot of power on it and pulled down at the end.

“I can’t believe it went (160-plus). I still can’t. One-sixty has been a goal for a long time. I haven’t had as much confidence this year as usual, but that 150 district brought me back.”

McCarthey’s winning distance smashed the Class AAA state meet record of 156-9 by Walla Walla’s Sheri Bates in 1979. It was less than two feet short of the all-time best by a Washington high school girl, but is the best toss by a prep girl in the nation this year. The national leader going into the weekend had been Karyn Szarkowski of North Dakota with 161-9.

The Arizona State-bound McCarthey said Brown’s throw that took the lead during prelims got the competitive juices flowing.

“I thought ‘well I’ve got to do it now.’ After that, I let down. I told myself it was only two more feet for the all-time state record, but I couldn’t do it.”

The runner-up finish was a replay of last year’s state finish for Brown, who was fourth as a sophomore.

“I knew I needed another good one after 153-0,” said Brown. “I expected Tracy to come back and she did.”

Edwards, third in the javelin last season, held the lead during preliminaries, lost it in the final to Phil Posada of Eisenhower, then recouped to grab back the top spot on his next-to-last- throw with a 185-10 toss, three inches ahead of Posada. Edwards added icing to the cake on this last throw with 197-5.

“I knew I’d won at that point, so I let everything go,” said Edwards. “That last one felt good. I knew I had it in me. I felt great. I wish I had one more throw.”

Fort Vancouver’s Chris Hiller, the district champion with the second-best toss in the state heading into the meet, had a disappointing day. He finished fifth with a throw of 169-2. He was in fourth place after the preliminarieis, but dropped down one place after Chris Ducklow of Richmond sent on of his final throws 169-11.

Hill was unable to improve in his last three throws.

Edwards was disappointed with his sixth-place pole vault finish the night before, scaling 13-6 which was an inch below his district mark. That performance spurred him to an all-out effort in the javelin.

“I was upset,” he admitted. “I didn’t do it Friday, so I decided I had to do it in the javelin.”

State meets bring out the best in the Evergreen senior. He improved his personal best by 20 feet to place third in 1982 and came up with another lifetime best on the final throw of his prep career Saturday.

“At first I had trouble controlling my tip,” he said. “It was all over the place. I wasn’t worried about the competition. I was just throwing against myself, trying to improve my (personal record).”

Indicative of local strength in the javelin, four Clark County athletes were in the girls Class AAA field of 12, and three made it to the finals. Joining McCarthey and Brown in the final was Columbia River sophomore Tracy Davis, who didn’t place but gained valuable experience. She said a simple case of nerves truck during the final round.

“I wasn’t nervous until they called my name,” Davis said. “Then I was real nervous. I ahd two crossovers on my approach and everything. I only did that because I was nervous.”

The fourth Clark County represenatitive also should have been around for the finals. But Evergreen’s Michele Gentry had to sit by and watch, her ankle taped and iced. A severe sprain suffered Wednesday during city league softball practice forced her out of the competition.

A junior, Gentry still has another shot.

“I’ll be back next year,” she vowed. “Not as a spectator, but as a participant.”

McCarthey, who has done all she can do on the Washington high school javelin scene, will broaden her horizons during the next month. She’s been invited to compete at the June 4 Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, then will face an international field June 25 in the Women’s Prep Classic in Beaverton.

Written by Steve Kadel, The Columbian, May 31, 1983.