When Haley Crouser’s family has a gathering, it looks more like a who’s who of our nation's outstanding throwers than your typical family picnic. Crouser’s pedigree is one that any thrower would envy. Her father, Dean, was a three-time NCAA champion at the University of Oregon who specialized in discus and shot put, while her uncle, Brian, was the first freshman to win an NCAA javelin title. Haley’s brother Sam set a new high school javelin record before heading to his father’s alma mater, and her cousin Ryan was the nation’s top ranked high school discus thrower this year.
Although it seems that the Crousers’ numerous accolades might overshadow her, Haley is on track to become one of the most successful in her family. The Gresham, Ore. native shot onto the national javelin scene this year with her toss of 173-00, a new sophomore record that sits less than four feet off Avione Allgood’s national record. Her winning performance this week at the 2011 World Youth Trials earned Crouser a spot on Team USA at next week’s IAAF World Youth Championships in Lille, France.
For Crouser, of Gresham High School, the family throwing tradition has not been intimidating, but rather motivating.
“You kind of feel a drive to do it because your whole family does it, and you just want to see if it’s something you’d be good at,” Crouser said. “And once I started, I realized that it was something I was fairly good at.”
Crouser had an early start in the event, beginning at age nine. She still remembers her very first throw.
“It was a plastic turbo javelin, and I just threw it in our cul-de-sac” Crouser said. “So my dad took me out there, and I think I threw 30 feet that day... I actually won nationals for Junior Olympics for javelin [that year], so that was pretty much a sign.”
At the time, her brother was already involved in the sport.
“My brother [Sam] threw javelin when I was starting to get into it,” she said. “I guess he kind of inspired me in that way.”
Seven years later, the drills and practicing have paid off for Crouser with a spot on the U.S. Youth Team and a trip to France.
“It’s kind of hard to slow down and think about [being on Team USA], but once you think about what an accomplishment it is, it’s so big,” Crouser. “And I’ve never gone anywhere outside of the country, so that’s pretty crazy.”
Besides the excitement of traveling and representing the U.S., Crouser also hopes that the trip to France will yield results on the javelin runway.
“It’s exciting, getting to compete against all of the athletes in France,” she said. “It’s the best of the best for competition. Hopefully I’ll get a PR over there.”
Before Crouser gets to compete though, she does have one obstacle left to overcome - the six-hour flight to France.
“I can’t fall asleep on planes, so that might be a little bit of a problem,” Crouser said.
Looking ahead, the future seems bright for Crouser’s track career. In addition to being an outstanding javelin thrower, she has also started to explore the heptathlon as well. Crouser has already competed in several multi-events, and she even toyed with the idea of competing in the heptathlon at the World Youth Trials as well.
“I’ve worked on most of [the events], but some of them I haven’t like the 800 and high jump,” she said. “I just wanted to focus more on javelin to make sure I could have a chance at getting a spot instead of worrying about it... But it’s definitely something I want to do in the future.”
But for now, Crouser’s focus is on javelin.
“It’s a big goal, but I really want to get the national record,” she said. “If I keep working hard, I think I can get it.”