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One year after elbow surgery, Roy High’s Ethan Ecker wins state javelin title with new record

By Patrick Carr - Standard-Examiner | May 24, 2022

Supplied by Benjamin Hunsaker

Roy High javelin thrower Ethan Ecker, center, stands on the podium after winning the 6A boys javelin state championship Thursday, May 19, 2022 at BYU.

PROVO — Roy High thrower Ethan Ecker knew his elbow was going to hurt when he hurled his javelin in the finals at the state track and field meet on May 19 at BYU.

He’d long since decided he didn’t care. But whether it was the adrenaline or a bunch of ibuprofen, Ecker’s throw didn’t hurt.

“I knew the second I released it it was going to be a good throw,” Ecker said.

The distance of the throw was 195 feet, 2 1/4 inches — about 9 feet ahead of second place, good enough for a state championship and good enough for a new 6A classification record.

“It’s kind of a relief because I didn’t know if I was going to be able to compete this year. I thought I was going to go three years in high school without competing at what I do best, so I was kind of relieved to finally accomplish that,” Ecker said.

The triumph culminated a multi-year title chase that was first impacted by COVID-19 his sophomore year and then by a torn UCL and Tommy John surgery in his throwing elbow his junior year.

“It’s usually about a 12-18 month recovery, and I’m at about a year and a month … I wanted to get back this season to see if I could compete here and see how well I could do on a half-elbow,” he said Saturday at the state meet.

In lieu of throwing the javelin, Ecker would help out teammate Reese Jones occasionally with the javelin. Jones threw 179 feet, 5 1/2 inches last Thursday and took third.

Ecker also tried the long jump early this season but tweaked his hamstring. Ecker, who played linebacker and fullback on the football team last fall, is convinced he’s made of glass.

“Oh my gosh, yeah. The whole football season playing both ways, no injuries. Come to track and I’m pulling hamstrings, got elbow problems, it’s bad,” Ecker said.

Even with his state meet victory, Ecker said he still feels like he’s in the recovery phase. By the time he got to the state meet, he guessed he was throwing on “three-quarters” of an elbow.

Sometimes, it was painful to throw the javelin. So if it hurt so much and if college track and field is in his future, why did Ecker go ahead and throw this year?

A lot of it had to do with not getting the chance to win the state title either his sophomore or junior years, both of which Ecker said he felt he could’ve won.

“One of my best friends is Reese Jones, and Parker Kingston, they both are pushing me a ton,” Ecker said. “Reese has helped me a ton with the javelin, love throwing with him every day and then Parker, too, because he does a ton for our team so it’s like, well, he can run all these races I can suck up one throw and go out and perform the way I can.”

Even though he couldn’t throw at full strength, Ecker felt a desire to help the team in whatever way he could. So at the Region 2 championships, Ecker competed in the 4×100 relay, the shot put, the long jump and the javelin.

He won the javelin, got fourth in long jump, Roy was fourth in the 4×100 and Ecker took fifth in the shot put. Overall, he scored 19 points individually and contributed to five points in the relay for a total of 24 to his name. The Roy boys had 173 points to Cyprus’ 133 to win the team title.

Track and field, specifically javelin, has always been Ecker’s thing since he was little.

The event is super technical with a lot of moving parts. There are myriad potential differences between a really good throw and an even better one.

“It’s really down to my foot being pointed at 1 o’clock instead of two, or things like being on my toe or timing with my left arm, there’s a million different things that need to be timed up perfectly at the same time for a throw to go far,” Ecker said.

But the event fits his personality.

“I’m kind of a perfectionist. If I’m really close to something I’m going to make sure I lean into it, so when I saw the film of my second throw (at the state meet Thursday) and saw how close it was to being one of my best throws, I was going to make sure I got one out there that was good,” Ecker said.

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