What's This LIFT Throwers' Pentathlon Coming Up?

High schoolers don't get many chances to throw the hammer here in Colorado, but this one opportunity to both learn and throw it.

If you've looked deep into the summer of the 2017 outdoor track and field calendar here on Colorado Track XC, you've seen it. But, you may not completely understand what it is. The 2-Day Throwers' Pentathlon.... So, just what is it?

In an effort to shed some light on that question, Colorado Track XC took some time to talk with Matt Krich about that. 

If you're a thrower, it's two full days of sheer bliss. It's training in all five throwing events, with an opportunity to compete a little in those events thrown in. But, there's probably more you'd like to know as well. If so, drop in on our conversation below and see what you learn.

Undertaking the job of teaching high school throwers five different throws--of which most already have some familiarity with two, maybe three--in two days is a fairly complex task. Let's begin by having you share with us a little about your background in throws.

I understand that coaching five events in two days can be quit an undertaking. I know I won't be able to get them to elite, but can give them a good understanding and an enjoyment of a few new events and fuller development of the events they know. I have been involved with track and field since 1979. I have a lot of experience with the throws at many different levels as a competitor and coach. I have coached at almost every level from middle school, high school, junior college, NAIA, D3, D2, and D1. I currently coach at Discovery Canyon Campus and at the Air Force Academy Prep School. I have coached several high school state champions, junior college, and NCAA national champions, as well as seven athletes to the Olympic Trials and two that made the Olympic team. I still compete myself at the Masters level, last year ranked in the top ten in the nation of all throwing events and the throws pentathlon. I enjoy coaching young ambitious athletes.

How long have you been coaching throws on the club scene?

Like I said I started competing in track back 1979, and started coaching in 1989 at the different college levels. I didn't start coaching the youth club level till 2010 with the LandSharks Running Club. When they decided to retire from the club, they handed it over to me as long as I changed the name. That was two years ago and how Let It Fly track - LIFT got its start, even though I have been using the Let It Fly Throwers - LIFT since 1993 when I was coaching at Mt. SAC Junior College.

Does it unnerve you a little to take raw high school throwers and turn them loose with the hammer?

No, it doesn't unnerve me at all. Safety has always been my number one concern and teaching tool. Plus, since there are very few states that throw hammer in high school, so even at the college level I was working with raw right-out-of-high-school throwers. anyway. So this isn't much different. The skills learned for the hammer can transfer very easily into the weight, it's just heavier and shorter.

How do you arrange your days for the Throwers' Pentathlon? Presumably, there's one of you and several of them. What does the plan of instruction look like?

My plan for the first day is to have an introduction of myself and them, and take them into a good warm-up. I plan on the first event being the javelin. That way when we do the hammer next it will flow right into the weight, ending with the heaviest implement for the day. On day two, another good warm-up and start with the discus and move into the shot. With the shot the athlete can work on the glide or the spin, whichever one they are comfortable with or want to learn. We won't spend a lot of time on these two depending on the needs of the athletes since we have the pentathlon to complete on this day. When done with the competition, I will hand out awards and answer any question they may have.

One of the throws is the weight throw. I'm guessing you'll be using the high school weights for that event, but do you know if any of these kids will ever get an opportunity to do the weight throw in actual competition outside of your event? It would be tough to go to Simplot and compete in the weight throw without any opportunities between your event and that meet. Is there a fix in the works? Do you see any opportunities for kids to compete in the hammer locally?

I know there is very little opportunity to throw the hammer and even fewer for the high school size weight, but like I said earlier I am giving them a chance to try something they may never have the chance to do again, and maybe find out they really like it and have a talent for it, to pursue in college. As for opportunities outside this one event they have a few other events they could do. During the summer JO club season there are at least two events where they can compete in hammer, one of them my LIFT Invite, the other the JO State championships. Plus the Boulder Road Runners has a series of summer meets on Thursday nights where they can compete in hammer. I coach hammer during my summer LIFT program, or during private lessons I will coach any throwing event. During the winter there are a couple indoor meets at the Air Force Academy where they can throw the weight.*

What's your favorite throw to teach?

My favorite event is a hard decision, I enjoy coaching all of them for different reasons, so I guess I will answer this from the view of which I enjoy throwing the most. Since I am not a big guy I had to have good technique to keep up with the bigger guys. I am also very quick, explosive, and strong for my size, plus I will give every throw time. That said I was ranked 8th in the nation in college with the javelin, so it is my favorite since I am the best at it and don't need the size you need for the other events. I was good with the disc and shot, but they got bigger in college so it was even harder to keep up with the big guys so I focused on the javelin. I learned the hammer after college and found out how much fun that is as well and really enjoy it, which flowed into learning the weight. All that said, javelin is my favorite and shot is my least favorite to throw.

And the most difficult throw to teach?

I would say the most difficult events are the hammer and weight only because the athletes are so new to them and the weight is much heavier. In high school, the girls are 20 lbs. and boys 25 lbs., in college girls are still 20lbs and boys are 35lbs. But they will love it!

Can athletes still sign up for your Throwers' Pentathlon? What should they know before they do?

They absolutely can still sign up for the LIFT Throws Pentathlon. They can even show up that day and sign up. They will need to have a USATF membership which only costs $20, this covers them for insurance while at the event.

If they want to sign up early and get a USATF membership they can go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/lift-throwers-pentathlon-tickets-33962649198 and https://www.usatf.org/membership/application/index.asp.

They should bring plenty of water, healthy snacks like carbo/protein bars, mixed nuts to keep their energy up, sun lotion, and their own implements if they have them. I have plenty of everything if they don't. For the javelin they should bring rough-soled shoes, spikes, or football cleats for grip in the grass. They should also get a good night sleep before it all starts and be ready to have fun.

* - As a more detailed note on weight throw opportunities, Western State has hosted the weight throw (using high school implements) at their high school indoor meet the last three years and the Great Southwest Indoor Classic also contests a high school weight throw--generally on the same weekend, though. Athletes will probably have only one opportunity to compete in a collegiate meet at the Air Force Academy this coming indoor season--that one being the Air Force Holiday Open in December. And, in that case, the weight throw will be contested with the collegiate, not the high school, implement for men (women's implements, as noted above, are the same for high school and college). Other than that, there does not yet appear to be any opportunities for Colorado high schoolers to compete in the weight throw outside of the Simplot Games in Idaho.