Thrower Weston Cottrell invented a gerund to celebrate a teammate’s big day in the javelin.
“Hey, if I get a PR (personal record), I’m going to call it ‘Odling,’ ” he said.
That sounds good to Damien Odle, who highlighted Friday’s Shocker Open with a school-record throw of 240 feet, 8 inches in the javelin. That throw beat his personal best by 19 feet and ranks No. 16 nationally.
Odle, a junior from Greensburg, won the NJCAA javelin last year at Cowley College with a throw of 201-9. He came to WSU and kept pushing that number, throwing 221-5 on April 30 at the Rock Chalk Classic. On Friday, a sunny day with a slight breeze, he broke Trent Mazanec’s 2010 record of 238-1 on his final throw.
“When I threw that one, it really didn’t feel that well,” Odle said. “It felt kind of natural. It just kind of went. I didn’t force it or anything.”
The timing couldn’t be much better with the Shockers headed to the Missouri Valley Conference championships on Friday in Terre Haute, Ind. The Shockers traditionally score heavily in the javelin and own five of the Valley’s top six throws, led by Odle.
“That last throw, he lined things up and caught it right,” throws coach John Hetzendorf said. “It’s never that far away. Of all the throwing events, javelin is one where this happens.”
In recent practices, he focused on landing solidly on his plant foot and driving off that base.
“I finally hit a plant and the arm came over just right and it just kept flying,” he said. “Usually, I step over my plant and that takes out pretty much all the power.”
Before Friday’s javelin throw, Odle competed in the hammer throw and said he thought that activity loosened up his back. While Hetzendorf is skeptical of that causation, he isn’t going to question success too hard.
“Maybe we’ve got to enter him in the conference meet to get him ready for the javelin,” he said. “Probably not. The important thing is if the things he felt on the last throw he can keep, and start to repeat.”
Odle didn’t need to rush to his phone to spread the news on Friday. His mother, father, brother and sister watched the throw.
“I picked the right day to hit a big PR,” he said.
Bahner on track for Trials — Decathlete Austin Bahner, a former Heights and Wichita State athlete, is in good shape to qualify for July’s Olympic Trials with a score of 7,672. That ranks No. 14 nationally and 18 athletes will compete.
Later this month, he will compete in Chula Vista, Calif. to give himself another shot to improve his score. On Friday, he worked on some of his weaker events by competing in the 110-meter hurdles and shot put, as well as the discus and pole vault, at the Shocker Open.
“If I bump up my score a little bit, I think I’ll be safe for the Trials and I’ll shut it down,” he said.
Bahner, 24, is training in Wichita with Wesley Bray, a decathlete from Houston and twice a Team USA teammate of Bahner. Since WSU’s decathletes are on a different training schedule, designed to peak in late and June, it’s good for Bahner to work with someone on the same calendar. Should Bahner qualify for the Trials, it will be his first look at the big of a stage.
“He’s a lot more experienced than I am; he has experience with bigger meets,” Bahner said. “With hurdles, and shot, he helps me a lot. I help him with the discus.”
Rainbolt will coach Thorp Cup — WSU track and field coach Steve Rainbolt will coach some of the top U.S. decathletes in the Thorp Cup in late July in Fayetteville, Ark. The annual event, in which Bahner competed the past two years, pits the U.S. against Germany in men’s and women’s multi-events.
Rainbolt, who considers coaching the multi-events a specialty, coached the United States in the Pan American Combined Events Cup in 2014. The Thorp Cup is the logical next step in the multi-events world. When coaching that kind of athlete, Rainbolt knows, sometimes it’s his job to stay out of the way, offer encouragement and a bit of advice.
“It’s an honor,” he said. “With guys like that, I’ll get there and do anything I can to help them.”
Worth noting — Former WSU pitcher A.J. Ladwig was named Detroit’s minor-league pitcher of the month for April. Ladwig, from Omaha, went 4-0 with an 0.78 ERA for the Lakeland (Fla.) Flying Tigers of the Class-A Florida State League. In four starts, he struck out 17 and walked one. … WSU basketball coach Gregg Marshall’s team camp is June 3-5 at the Wichita Sports Forum. Cost is $800 a team.