Press Release: Project Kultan Keihas javelinists return to Chapel Hill

by Steve Underwood

Kultan Keihas Project Javelin
National Scholastic Athletics Foundation
Chapel Hill, NC

CHAPEL HILL -- Six of the best prep javelin throwers in the U.S., including two of the nation’s top three returning girls, are returning to Chapel Hill this weekend for the second of the 2013-14 Kultan Keihas Project Javelin domestic clinics.  The clinic, taking place Friday, December 27 to Monday, December 30, is the second of two here (the other was October 17-20) – with sessions at locations including the UNC’s Finley Field and the “Field of Dreams” javelin facility operated by Klub Keihas Coach Jeff Gorski

(Kultan Keihas means “Javelin Gold” in Finnish)

The clinic coaching staff for this weekend includes Gorski, a former USATF Javelin High Performance Chair and coach of many elite throwers and U.S. record holders, and Barry Krammes, an active two-time Olympic Trials qualifier who is one of Gorski’s leading disciples.

They will be joined by two other legendary figures:  Kimmo Kinnunen is the national junior coach of Finland and the 1991 IAAF World Champion in the javelin.  He also won silver at the 1993 Worlds in Stuttgart and was 4th and 7th in consecutive Olympic Games: Barcelona in 1992 and Atlanta in 1996.  He, along with Finnish (senior) national jav coach Kari Ihalainen, heads up the Project in Finland.  But for the U.S. clinics, athletes often have the bounty of their presence as well. 

Tom Pukstys is also working with the troops, another close colleague of Coach Gorski.  He was a 1992 and 1996 Olympian for Team USA, and the #1 ranked American (Track and Field News) seven times between 1992 and 1999.  He finished as high as 8th in the Olympics and had a best of 9th in six IAAF World Championship appearances.  His career best of 285-10 is #3 on the all-time U.S. list and he was an assistant coach with the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team.

As for the elite athletes involved in the program, they include:

  • Katelyn Gochenour, Marian (Omaha, Neb.) sophomore – The javelin is not a high school event in Nebraska, but in USATF competition, Gochenour threw 156-8 -- #7 in the country, 2nd-best among non-seniors and #1 for all 9th-graders.  She won two different divisions at the Pihtipudas Javelin Carnival in Finland last summer to earn MVP honors, but was 3rd in a showdown with Montgomery and Fitzgerald at the USATF Junior Olympics in Greensboro.
  • Tairyn Montgomery, Redondo Union (Redondo Beach, Calif.) sophomore – Montgomery’s best of 155-9 won the USATF Junior Olympics over Fitzgerald and Gochenour, and ranked her as #8 in the U.S., #3 among non-seniors, and #2 among freshmen.
  • Emma Fitzgerald, Thayer Academy (Braintree, Mass.) sophomore – Fitzgerald’s best of 149-5 was second to Montgomery at the USATF Junior Olympics and ranked her #16 in the country, #6 among non-seniors, and #3 among freshmen.  But she also won the World Youth Trials, throwing 167-10 with a lighter youth javelin.  A great all-around athlete, she won the USATF Junior Olympic heptathlon with 4,698 points.
  • Todd Ogden, Glacier (Kalispell, Mont.) senior – Ogden was the US#4 javelinist as a junior last spring, hitting a best of 211-11 at the Pihtipudas Javelin Carnival in July.  He was the Montana 2A state champ and is the #3 returnee as a senior this year.  He was unable to the October clinic due to a football commitment, but is refocused on the jav now. 
  • Trevor Danielson, Newberg (Ore.) senior – Danielson threw a PR 206-0 while winning the Jesuit Twilight Relays in May as a junior, making him #8 for 2013 nationally and the #5 returnee.  He was 4th in a very tough 6A state meet at 199-10 and won several other meets with consistency at mid-180s or better.
  • Kristen Clark, Ruston (La.) senior – Clark threw her best of 139-5 in taking 5th in the New Balance Nationals Outdoor (also a NSAF event).  She was 2nd in Louisiana’s 5A state meet after winning the 4A state meet as a freshman in 2011.

Also participating in the domestic clinics is Lawrence Free State (Lawrence, Kans.) senior Alexa Harmon-Thomas, a World Youth Finalist in the heptathlon and among the top jumpers and hurdlers in the country.  The javelin is one of her events in the heptathlon and, given that she’s seeking particular improvement in that discipline, she was invited to the domestic clinics (although she’s not part of the elite program).

Gochenour, Danielson, Clark and Ogden were all returning athletes in the Kultan Keihas Project Javelin starting the fall, while Montgomery, Fitzgerald (and Harmon-Thomas) were newcomers.  Another 22 high school and collegiate athletes are registered for the event from a dozen states, including November returnees Chrissy Glasmann, Kennedy Gochenour, Sophia Rivera and John Putnam.

This is the third year of the project, originated and produced by the National Scholastic Athletics Foundation (NSAF).  These clinics are open to all interested throwers and coaches, but for the six elite athletes, they’re part of a 9-month program that concludes with a trip to the national training center in Finland next summer – a country where the event is a national pastime.

The Foundation, based in Chapel Hill, launched this project in the fall of 2011 after founder and Executive Director Jim Spier and COO Joy Kamani had observed that the javelin was one event where the U.S. was falling short in the Olympics and other international competitions, and aspired to start a program that would address the challenge.

For more information on the Kultan Keihas Project Javelin, go to

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