Waynesboro's Austin Kassman wasn't on anyone's radar Saturday at the Mid Penn Conference track & field championships.
He wasn't even on his own radar.
Seeded eighth heading into the javelin, Kassman was looking for a throw good enough to qualify him for districts. He did that and so much more, and now, Kassman is the Public Opinion Male Athlete of the Week. He hurled two personal records, and his fifth throw of the day - a toss of 176-0 - ensured him a gold medal and a spot at this weekend's District 3 Championships.
"I was shooting for districts; my coach told me he thought two more feet would get me into districts (his previous PR was 161-2)," Kassman said. "When they announced 174 (on the first throw of finals), I actually thought they said 164. I was just shocked that I was able to get that myself. All I wanted was a medal, so it was really exciting to get first."
Indian coach Michael Garraway said, "All we were thinking was, what do we have to throw to get into districts? We weren't really looking for a win, but the fact that he got the win is just awesome."
Kassman's best throw in prelims was just over 157 feet, which was shy of his PR. But he changed some things up for his finals throws, where he produced the tosses of 174-0 and 176-0. His second throw of finals was especially key, as the runner-up had a mark of 175-0.
"I was looking at the other throws, some of the top throws from Palmyra and State College," Kassman said. "They were throwing it so straight, and had their body position in a straight line. Before, I was more loose and just letting it fly, but in finals, I tried to straighten myself out more and really follow through."
Whatever the strategy, it worked, and Kassman will be looking to keep improving this week. The Indian senior is hoping to qualify for states, which requires an automatic standard of 178-0.
"(Throwing) coach (Matt) Bosso and I are definitely hoping for a district medal, if not qualifying for states," Garraway said. "I have to give a big shoutout to coach Bosso; he's been working with Austin all year. He's really the man behind the monster."
Austin Kassman, Waynesboro
Sport: Track & field
Parents: Michael and Colleen Kassman
Other interests: Austin also wrestles and plays football for the Indians. He is a member of the National Honors Society, and is involved in the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps.
Surprising fact: He wakes up at 4:30 every morning to work out. He's training for a triathlon and is hoping to enter the Marine Corps after college.
Favorite team: Baltimore Ravens
Athlete most admired: Ray Lewis.
Statistics: Kassman won the gold medal in the javelin at the Mid Penn Conference Championships ... His best throw of 176-0 was a personal record by 15 feet ... He was seeded eighth heading into the event, but guaranteed himself a spot at districts with the victory.