PARK CITY — It's been quite a summer for Megan Glasmann ever since she tossed her cap in the air and graduated from Park City High School in June. She's traveled to New Mexico, Iowa, North Carolina (twice), Finland and Colombia and learned how to say thank-you in three languages — four if you count Southern — all because of the slender 21-ounce, 7-foot-3-inch spear that is her constant companion.
Megan is a javelin thrower and those thank-yous have been for the medals people keep draping over her shoulders every time she bows her head because of how far she throws it. In the past eight weeks she has gone on what could be called a rampage and that's if you're into understatement.
The Great Southwest Classic in Albuquerque, N.M. (the day after she tossed that graduation cap in the air): First place.
The New Balance Nationals in Greensboro, N.C.: First place.
The USA Outdoor Track & Field Junior Championships in Des Moines, Iowa: First place.
The international Javelin Carnival in Pihtipudas, Finland (javelin's answer to Woodstock): Third place and seventh place.
The USA Track and Field National Junior Olympics in Greensboro, N.C.: First place.
The Pan American Junior Championships in Medellin, Colombia: First place with the longest throw in meet history.
Her winning throw at the Pan Ams — where hundreds of athletes 19 and under representing 36 countries in the Americas converged — was measured at 176 feet, 11 inches. To put that distance in perspective, it is 20 feet farther than the 156-3 Megan recorded this spring — merely the longest javelin throw in Utah schoolgirl history — and it places her as the second longest thrower in U.S. high school history (only Oregon's Haley Crouser has thrown the spear farther). The heave would have won the Pac-12 championships this year and placed third in the 2013 NCAA championships.
Even a sports world that typically yawns when javelin is mentioned unless the word Olympic is also in the sentence stood up and took notice. An 18-year-old did what! Sports Illustrated called Park City and asked for a photo of Megan for its vaunted Faces in the Crowd feature. And at the headquarters of USA Track & Field they voted hands-down that Megan's miracle at Medellin made her the USATF national Athlete of the Week.
Megan isn't entirely sure how she kept increasing her personal best by leaps and bounds over the summer — she went from 156-3 in May to 159-1 in June to 166-7 in July to 176-11 in August. Part of it she attributes to the intense "shock to my system" workout regimen that was sent to her by Stanford University, the school she'll attend on a track scholarship this fall, that she dove into once she graduated. Part of it is no more high school homework to worry about. And the biggest part she attributes to her mom Niki, whose mantra has always been that once you've reached your goals then reach for higher ones.
It was Niki Glasmann who first put a javelin in Megan's hands when she was 8 and her sister Chrissy was 6 — an act that elicited from Megan a huge eye roll, as did taking it to the park and throwing it around.
"Other families throw a football or kick a soccer ball; we tossed the javelin," she says 10 years later, still approximating that eye roll.
"I never realized what my mom was doing until I got to high school," she is quick to add. "What she was doing was telling me that this was something I could be good at."
That's because so was Niki. Before she married Tommy Glasmann she was Niki Nye, an all-around athlete and two-time state javelin champion at Roy High School (best throw:149-6) and after that a college javelin thrower at first Weber State and later at the University of Texas, where she became an all-American and her school record of 182-6 feet still stands 25 years later.
Niki came this close to making the 1988 U.S. Olympic team, finishing fourth at the trials that summer and qualifying as first alternate. A couple of injuries after that and it was on to nursing school and marriage and … fast-forward to Megan, Chrissy (third in state this year as a sophomore at Park City High), 11-year-old Jaynie and their little brother Tom who is 8.
Javeliners, just like their mom.
The legacy came full circle this summer at the Junior Olympic meet in July in Greensboro, where 18-year-old Megan won with a throw of 152-11.
In that very same meet exactly 30 years ago, also in North Carolina, her mom won when she was 18 years old with a throw of 153-8.
Because of changes made to the javelin in 1999 — the older ones went farther — comparing the distances isn't exactly apples to apples. But that is of no concern for Megan, who says of her mother, "I'm just proud to be following along in her footsteps."
To which her mother, after a whirlwind summer of first places, rejoins, "I'm just proud watching her go places I never went."