PITTSFIELD — Throwers of all sizes were on hand for the ninth Husky Throwdown on Saturday at Maine Central Institute.

But for some of the top competitors in the annual throwing event — which included athletes from 23 different programs throughout the state — strength is not the key for a good throw in the shot put, discus or javelin. For them, it’s all in the technique.

“It doesn’t matter how strong you are. If you can’t get the technique down, you’re not going to throw to the best of your ability,” MCI senior Heather Nelson said.

Nelson, one of the Huskies’ top throwers, competed in all three events on Saturday. That included the javelin, an event that involves a running start before hurling a spear, or javelin, as far as possible. Nelson admitted it’s not her favorite throw.

“It’s an awkward (throw),” Nelson said. “I personally don’t throw (javelin) that much, I’m really only throwing it today, because it’s (usually) a very awkward throw.

“The important technique with the javelin is you have to make sure you’re looking at the tip (of the javelin) the whole time and making sure you’re not hucking it as far as you can.”


Mt. Blue junior Craig Bessey also feels awkward throwing the javelin. But his key to a good throw comes in the release.

“I really like to focus on the release, snapping your wrist (on the throw),” Bessey said. “Flicking (the javelin) out and following through to your (opposite) pocket. Just throwing it around with a lot of force behind it. I never really focus on my run up; I just do what feels good. The run up is the part that I struggle with the most.”

Bessey new early in his high school career that the javelin was for him.

“Freshman year, I don’t remember what (distance the throw) was, but I knew (the javelin) stuck beautifully and it flew very well,” Bessey said. “I was like, ‘I’m going to like this event for a few more years.'”

The release is also important for Bessey in his second-favorite event, the shot put, which involves hurling an estimated 12-pound iron ball as far as possible. Typically, shot putters keep the ball close to their neck, shuffling forward to gain momentum before pushing the shot forward with velocity.

“Again, the (key) is the release,” Bessey said. “I feel like if you don’t get good snap, it’s the difference in (the shot) going straight.


“The whole (shot put) movement is like throwing a punch,” Bessey said. “If you watch boxing, you can see, when throwing a punch, you (start low) and come all the way up.”

Mt. Blue’s Jackson Penlind throws the shot put during the Husky Throwdown on Saturday in Pittsfield. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

For MCI senior Wyatt Robinson, the power in the shot put comes from footwork in the glide-up, before the push.

“My coach drilled us hard in squishing the bug, (which means) getting your foot up and getting your foot rotated, because that’s where all your power comes from,” Robinson said. “It’s a lot of squishing the bug so you can get your hips rotated towards the front of the (shot put) pit, so you get a straighter throw and don’t have to do what my coach calls ‘cartwheeling,’ or coming over (with your throwing arm) over your body. You’re more aligned, straighter. You get the power straight from the ground.

“You have to be built a little bit, upper-body wise, to get (the shot) to go,” Robinson continued. “But I’ve seen plenty of throwers who weren’t terribly built for arms to throw absolute cannons because their technique is good.”

Robinson takes a scientific approach when it comes to the discus event, which involves throwing a thick disc, usually involving a thrower to start with a spinning approach before hurling the discus.

“(The key) is just keeping your arms long and opposite,” Robinson said. “Just having long levers. It makes it so, physics-wise, the disc spins, and it has to move faster to keep up (with the body rotation). The end velocity is just faster than it normally would be if you kept (your arms) short.”


Mt. Blue junior Cassidy Hardy said her success in the discus comes from the momentum of her spin, just before letting the discus go.

“I usually focus on upper body,” Hardy said. “I have a hard time getting it all to connect, but I just really want to bring my upper body around fast. That helps.”

No matter the strategy, the throwers agree: Technique tops strength, every time.

“I’ve seen football players come in and try to throw (a javelin) like a football, and it doesn’t work,” Nelson laughed. “We have to re-work technique to keep the arm straight… Baseball and softball players come in and want to throw (a shot put) like a ball, but they’ll tear their shoulder. You need to be strong for shot put, but there’s (weaker) people that can throw insanely far just through their technique and footwork.”

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