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Drake wins national title by narrowest of margins

Bethany Drake claims the NCAA Division II javelin crown


by: COURTESY WESTERN WASHINGTON ATHLETICS - Sandy High graduate Bethany Drake heads down the runway during her winning effort in the javelin at the NCAA Division II national meet last month. Sandy High graduate Bethany Drake found that the second time was the charm after winning the javelin at the NCAA Division II track and field championships in Allendale, Mich.

The sophomore at Western Washington University came into the meet as the No. 1 seed after hurling the spear for a school record 169-feet-6-inches earlier in the regular season.

The pressure was on.

“Going in as the top seed people are expecting a lot from you, and you put a lot of pressure on yourself to go after it,” Drake said.

It was a different experience from her rookie trip to Nationals where simply being at the meet exceeded expectations. She took 13th that year.

This time around, she found herself sitting in fourth place after two throws. She uncorked a big one at the end of the preliminary qualifiers, whistling the javelin out to 161-2 — putting her a shoeprint behind lead Mary Riley out of Central Missouri.

The day would prove to be one of near misses, but Drake was determined not to be on the short end of the result.

She moved into the lead with a throw of 165-3 to start the finals.

“My first few throws I just relaxed and let them fly, but once we got to finals, it was time to get after it and try for the win,” Drake said. “I could tell it was a good throw when it left my hand, but there were still a lot of throws in the competition and I didn’t want to celebrate too soon.”

That mark would prove to be her best of the day and it would be just enough.

Her teammate, and fellow sophomore, Katie Reichert out of Kelso High sailed her final throw and watched it land just an inch short of Drake’s mark. Neither knew how to react until the official measurement was announced.

“We had been taking 1-2 all season, so it was super exciting to see her get one out there, but I still wanted to keep my lead,” Drake said.

Reichert’s throw zipper her up the leader board from ninth to second and the teammates would have yet another 1-2 finish on the biggest stage of their college season.

“It’s pretty crazy for it to be that close, and it was exciting knowing that we both did so well,” Drake said.

The teammates followed up their season with a trip to the U.S. Nationals in Sacramento two weeks ago. This time the teammates flipped spots with Reichert coming in 13th and Drake placing 15th at the most prestigious meet of the year.

“You know going in that you are going to win it, but it was an amazing atmosphere to be competing alongside Olympians,” Drake said. “God has opened doors I never saw coming, and it would be a shame not to give it everything I’ve got.”

Drake has since returned home to her family in Sandy where she’ll take a week off from training. She is studying Studio Art at Western Washington with hopes of becoming a secondary teacher.