8 US#1s, 5 NBN champs among preps at Chicagoland Throws

by Steve Underwood

This year after the New Balance Nationals Outdoor, there was a special opportunity awaiting the top three finishers in each of the four girls’ and four boys’ throwing events.  In essence, these cream of the crop prep shot put, discus, javelin and hammer throwers were asked if they’d like to join us at a one of a kind extravaganza, designed just for them.  Would they like to compete in a throws-only meet, where they’d have center state?  Would they like to compete alongside and, yes, WITH the American elites in our sport?  Like Olympic discus champion and American record-holder Stephanie Brown-Trafton?  Like javelin and hammer American record-holders Kara Patterson and Amanda Bingson?  Or how about current and aspiring Olympians like Russ Winger, Tim Glover, Sean Furey, Kibwe Johnson, Zach Lloyd, Brittany Borman, Felicia Johnson and more?

And how not only competing with these elites, but also being able to socialize with, ask advice from and be mentored by these elites?

Who would turn down that opportunity?

Not many, it turns out.  So this weekend, athletes like NBN in/out double champ and national record-setter Raven Saunders (Burke, SC senior) will be in the house, competing with and learning from these elites.  So will NBN discus and hammer winner Daniel Haugh (St. Pius X, GA senior) of the elite Throw 1 Deep club.  In fact, all eight US#1 throwers in each boys and girls event, plus six NBN outdoor and indoor champs are here.From Oregon and California will come NBNO boys’ and girls’ javelin champs John Nizich and Tairyn Montgomery – the latter part of a group of five from the NSAF’s Project Javelin. 

Event organizers also take advantage of the fact that the event is, after all, located in Chicago.  Participants will enjoy part of one evening taking in the small town charm of nearby Naperville one night, then hang out in the heart of Chicago another – with the finale of the Navy Pier fireworks display.  You can read more about the origins of the event here:  EARLIER CHICAGOLAND THROWS STORY.

You can read more about the prep entrants below:


Raven Saunders, Burke HS, SC, 2014
1st NBNO, 56-7.5 (1st NBNI, also 56-7.5)
2014 PRs: HSR 56-8.25 out, HSR 56-7.5 in
Comment: Indoor and outdoor NBN titles and national records have highlighted an unbeaten dream season for the national Gatorade T&F Girls Athlete of the Year.  Oh, and we can’t forget the USATF Junior title last weekend that earned her a Team USA berth for Worlds.  Could the relaxed competitive atmosphere yield another record?

Courtney McCartney, Selinsgrove Area HS, PA, 2015
2nd NBNO, 47-4.5 (7th NBNI, 44-2.75)
2014 PRs: US#6 49-0.25 out, 45-7.25 in
Comment:  Big breakout to 49-0.25 at PA AAA state meet was followed by runner-up effort at NBNO.  Also 3rd at Penn Relays after 2nd in 2013. 

Shaina Burns, Prior Lake HS, MN, 2014
5th NBNO 45-6.5 (13th NBNI 42-2)
PRs: 46-9.25 out, 42-2 in
Comment: Burns is best known as the nation’s #2 heptathlete, with NBNI pentathlon and NBNO heptathlon crowns, plus a 2nd at USA Jrs to make Team USA for the World Juniors.  But she is a very good putter, with a state AA title and NBNO podium finish.


Ashlie Blake, Liberty HS, NV, 2014
2014 PRs: US#3 51-7.25 out, US#2 53-10.25 in / US#5 166-1 DT
No NBNO in 2014
Comment: Though coming back from an off meet at USATF Juniors last week, her great career has included a NBNI runner-up performance in March at 53-10.25, #5 all-time.  She’s been in the 51s or better every season since 2012.  She was a “wild card” pick, having no NBNO this year, but being a CTS participant last year before she took 2nd and 3rd in the NBNO SP and DT.

Lloydricia Cameron, Miami (Fla.) Northwestern HS, 2014 (X)
4th NBNO 46-4 SP, 4th 152-5 DT
2014 PRs: US#11 48-4 SP/ US#4 166-8 DT
Comment:  The many-time Florida state champ is also a CSI alum from 2013.  Has half a dozen top-6 NBNO finishes during her career.


Kiana Phelps, Kingsley-Pierson HS, IA, 2016
2nd NBNO 152-6
2014 PR: US#1 179-7
Comment:  Consistent 150-footer broke out in a big way with US-leader and soph class HSR in a May invite in Iowa.  Also won Drake Relays and state title, then earned bronze at NBNO.  Got her 2nd 170-footer of the year at AAU qualifier in late June.


Tairyn Montgomery, Redondo Union HS, CA, 2016
1st NBNO 157-9
PR: US#5 157-9
Comment:  NSAF Project Javelin soph doesn’t throw implement during state meet season, but progressed quickly through post-season to break her 2013 PR with NBNO victory.  Previous career highlight was 2013 USATF JO intermediate title, beating future NSAF teammates Gochenour and Fitzgerald.  Was also 6th at Youth Olympic Trials.

Katelyn Gochenour, Marian Catholic HS, NE, 2016
2nd NBNO 154-11
PR: US#1 167-0
Comment:  Big PR came in college/open meet in March; she also doesn’t have JT competition in state.  Threw to strong runner-up finishes at Great Southwest and NBNO, and was 4th at YOT.  Looking to find form again after some struggles since NBNO.  Super 2013 season included Pihtapudas Jav Carnival MVP performances in Finland.

Gabby Kearney, Roseburg HS, OR, 2015
3rd NBNO, 151-10
2014 PR: US#2 166-0
Comment:  One of the nation’s biggest breakthrough throwers of 2014, she backed up her big throws in Oregon with her NBNO finish and an even better 3rd at the USATF Juniors last weekend – missed making Team USA by just three feet.  She’s improved 25 feet since last year.  Also hit 164-2 in winning state title and has five meets over 157.

Emma Fitzgerald, Thayer Academy, MA, 2016
4th NBNO 149-4
2014 PR: US#15 149-4 (149-5 in ’13)
Comment:  Fitzgerald’s most shining moment so far has been her Youth Olympic Trials win with a 168-2 with the lighter Youth jav – beating a superlative field that included several NSAF Project Jav teammates.  Her NBN performance was her first meet after coming back from a injury that developed at the Trials and kept her out rest of April and May.


Sabrina Gaitan, Sprayberry HS, GA, Throw 1 Deep, 2015
1st NBNO 182-2
PR: US#2 190-2 (192-5 in ’13)
Comment:  Gaitan scored a huge win over standing US#1 Haley Showalter at NBNO with her final round throw.  She’s consistent in the 180s or better.   She was also 4th at NBNI weight throw.  Competes internationally for Guatemala.

Haley Showalter, Valor Christian HS, CO, 2015
2nd NBNO 180-7
PR: US#1 193-4
Comment: Doesn’t get to throw HT regular season in Colorado, but won Youth Olympic Trials HT and DT, then hit US#1 mark to win Great Southwest.  Was beaten by Gaitan at NBNO, then came back to win USATF Juniors with 188-8 and make Team USA.

Lena Giger, Highland HS, IL, 2014
4th NBNO, 175-0
2014 PR: US#3 185-9
Comment: Best known for her shot putting through indoors and the regular outdoor season, with her 50-0 PR coming while finishing 4th at NBNI.  Then got rolling with hammer the past several weeks and is now up to 185-9.  Latest effort was 4th at USATF Juniors.  She won the USATF Youth meet with 183-1 and has been competing in other Chicagoland Throws meets.

Nyla Woods, Grady HS, GA, 2014
5th NBNO, 167-11
2014 PR: US#4 185-8
Comment:  Woods is part of a stellar 1-2 tandem for Throw 1 Deep.  Took 5th at US Juniors following her 5th at NBNO.  Surpassed 60-foot barrier in indoor weight throw with 2nd at NBNI.



Nick Demaline, Liberty Center HS, OH, 2014
2nd NBNO 65-4
2014 PRs: US#1 68-10.5 out, US#3 63-8 in
Comment: Barely a 60-footer in 2013, he’s perhaps the country’s most improved putter at the elite level.  Was also over 66 feet in winning his D1 state meet.  His indoor state title was his first meet over 63.

Eric Favors, North Rockland HS, NY, 2015
3rd NBNO 65-1.5 (6th NBNI 60-8.5)
2014 PRs: US#7 65-5.25 out, US#5 63-0.5 in
Comment:  Both of Favor’s in and out PRs came in fine runner-up performances at his state championships.  Also 2nd at Loucks Games and 9th at Penn Relays.  Has improved tremendously since 2013.

Felipe Valencia, Palmview HS, TX, 2014
4th NBNO 63-8.75
2014 PRs:  US#11 64-6 out, US#4 63-6 in
Comment:  NBNO finish was Valencia’s first national championship appearance.  Threw 64 or better in four meets, including repeat 5A state title performance.  Also won Texas Relays.

Luke Lewis, Hickory, PA, 2014
2014 PRs: US#5 65-6.25 out, US#11 62-3 in
Comment:  Picked as “wild card” with the big PR he threw in his county meet.  Claimed AA state title in PA as well.  Placed 8th and 9th in NBN shots in 2013.


Dennis Russell, Longwood HS, NY, 2014
5th NBNO 181-11
2014 PR: 185-5 DT (also 61-4.75 SP)
Comment:  New York state champ competed very well at NBNO, beating some 190-footers in taking 5th.  Also 5th at NBNI shot put and had season’s best of 62-1.

Jack Lembke, Sioux Falls Roosevelt HS, SD, 2014
2014 PR: US#6 198-3 (also 65-1 SP)
Comment:  Swept Class AA state meet throws this spring for 2nd straight year.  Also doubled the prestigious Howard Wood Invite.

Carlos Davis, Blue Springs HS, MO, 2015
2014 PR: US#1 212-5
Comment:  Stunned the track world with his massive, winning 212-5 PR at his 4A state meet.  Injury issues have hampered efforts since in Great Southwest (5th) and US Juniors, so hopes to get back on track this weekend.

Khalil Davis, Blue Springs HS, MO, 2015
2014 PR: 198-5
Comment:  Had generally been the more consistent and winning Davis brother until Carlos’ breakthrough at state.  Showed competitive fire, however, by coming back for runnerup finish at Great Southwest.  Has been over 190 in four meets.


Daniel Haugh, St. Pius X, GA, Throw 1 Deep, 2014
1st NBNO 197-2 DT, 1st NBNO HT 224-1
2014 PRs: US#1 235-4 HT, US#3 204-1 DT
Comment: Haugh’s HT/DT double at NBNO was one of the meet’s great unheralded achievements.  Few throwers in prep history have been as proficient at both of these throws as this Throw 1 Deep leader.  Also 2nd at NBNI weight throw.  Other major wins include Arcadia discus.


Curtis Thompson, Florence Memorial HS, NJ, 2014
3rd NBNO, 206
2014 PRs: US#1 224-10
Comments: Set New Jersey state record with his 224-10 PR.  Had a bit of a letdown at NBNO, but came back to win USATF Juniors last weekend and earn Team USA spot.

John Nizich, Catholic Central HS, OR, 2014
1st NBNO, 222-2
2014 PRs: US#2 222-9
Comments:  Led nation much of year before Thompson overtook him.  Big late throw earned him the New Balance title, then finished runner-up to Thompson at Juniors.

Todd Ogden, Glacier HS, MT, 2014
6th NBNO, 199-8
2014 PRs: US#5 215-0
Comments:  NSAF Project Javelin athlete hit pre-2014 PR with 211-11 US#4 throw at Pihtipudas Javelin Carnival last summer.

Trevor Danielson, Newberg HS, OR, 2014
9th NBNO, 192-1
2014 PR: 196-0 (206-0 in 2013)
Comments:  Back problems have hampered the NSAF Project Jav veteran’s senior year after more than a half-dozen 190-plus meets, plus 206-0 PR, in 2013.  Getting healthier this summer, though.

John Putnam, Massapequa HS, NY, 2015
4th NBNO, 206-0
2014 PR: 206-0
Comments:  Big 20-foot PR nailed him a podium finish at NBNO.   Looking now for consistency in 190s-200s.  Participated in NSAF Project Jav clinics in 2013.

Nick Sofanelli, Scranton Prep HS, PA, 2015
2nd NBNO 214-5
2014 PR: US#6 214-5
Comments:  His breakthrough was one of the best throws stories at 2014 NBNO.  Hadn’t been beyond 200 feet before.  Followed up with solid 8th at US Junior jav.


Colin Minor, South Brunswick HS, NC, 2014
2nd NBNO 222-0
2014 PR: US#3 229-6
Comments:  Took a big step by making World Youth team in 2013, then has followed as a senior by steadily moving up in the 220s and becoming the #3 prep nationally.  Only Haugh could beat him at NBNO. 

Robert Colantonio, Barrington HS, RI, 2016
4th NBNO, 214-6
2014 PR: US#4 228-0
Comments:  One of the best sophs in prep history, part of Barrington’s powerful 1-2 punch.  Has also won Rhode Island and USATF Youth titles this spring.

Adam Kelly, Barrington HS, RI, 2015
3rd NBNO, 219-6
2014 PR: US#5 223-5
Comments:  The older member of Barrington’s 1-2 punch, he made his biggest mark this year with an unbeaten campaign indoors in the weight, capped off by NBNI title.  Has also been very good this spring as he and his teammate take turns beating each other.

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