THE FRONT ROW WITH JASON ELLIOTT: A great show in the throws

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There’s all kinds of hidden gems around this part of the state.

Not only an area where some celebrities can hang out and relax without the threat — sometimes — of cameras chasing them around.

But just a few miles outside of Rathdrum, where some pretty big things have happened as of late in the track and field — heavy on the field — ranks.

Two years ago at the Iron Wood Throws Classic, Deanna Price — a 2016 Olympian — set a United States record with a throw of 254 feet, 9 inches in the women’s hammer at the Iron Wood Training Center just off Highway 53 in Rathdrum.

Not bad.

Fast forward to last Saturday, where Brooke Andersen, a 2018 Northern Arizona grad, took over the top spot in the event in the world with a throw of 76.74 meters (251 feet, 9 inches).

AS THE saying in the movie Field of Dreams goes, “If you build it, they will come.”

Well, Iron Wood throws guru Bart Templeman built it. And they’re coming from all over to compete.

“I think this complex is amazing,” said Avione Allgood, who is training at the University of Florida as part of an Olympic hopefuls program as she fulfills her military service with the U.S. Army. “It gives throwers a sanctuary and place to come where they don’t have to worry about the other events in track and field. And it’s beautiful here. It’s a really nice location.”

Allgood won the women’s (college and post-collegiate athletes) javelin on May 31 with a throw of 175 feet, 10 inches.

She’ll head overseas for some more training, then compete in the U.S. Championships July 25-28 in Des Moines, Iowa.

“I’m leaving for Finland here in a couple of weeks for a training camp,” Allgood said. “Hopefully I can figure out my technical issues before the U.S. Championships.”

Some of the best of the best in the nation in the high school ranks also made the trip to Rathdrum last weekend.

“I love it here,” said senior Skylar Ciccolini, who won the girls (high school athletes) javelin last Friday, adding another title from the one she won here in 2017. “I’m not out to this part of the country a lot, but love it.”

Ciccolini, who won four state titles in Pennsylvania, has signed with Missouri.

It was the first time in Rathdrum for Sam Hankins, a rising senior from Manhattan, Kan., who won the boys javelin with a throw of 224 feet, 6 inches.

“When we pulled in, I knew this was going to be something special,” Hankins said. “I love how they have it set up here. It was also some of the best conditions I’ve had to throw in all year.”

Believe it or not, the weather for track meets wasn’t great in other parts of the country either.

“I didn’t have one good meet with the weather until I competed in Sioux Falls (May 3-4),” Hankins said. “I threw a personal best of 220 feet that day. Then I went 224 today, so it was a good day.”

Hankins beat Ty Hampton of North Bend, Ore., who held the top mark in the nation in the javelin at 221-4.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, who won the men’s discus, was impressed by the surroundings in Rathdrum.

“I love it,” said Williams, who threw at Ole Miss. “It’s very nice. I didn’t think there was a facility like this out here at all outside of the (Olympic) training center (in Chula Vista, Calif.) and places like that. I was kind of shocked to see how advanced it was. I’d like to train here if I could.”

Williams is 13th in the world in the discus with a throw of 65.42 meters (214 feet, 6 inches) on May 18 in Tucson, Ariz.

As other competitors began showing up to get a workout before last Saturday’s shot put event, the enthusiasm for the discus wasn’t lost on Williams.

“At a certain point, you kind of become deaf to everything that’s going on outside of the ring,” Williams said. “I definitely love having the support and having my friends here to watch. But once I get into that ring, I’m kind of in my own little world and trying to do things right and see what happens.”

For at least a couple of days, throwers had a chance to have a spotlight shined on them.

And they shined, no doubt about that.

Jason Elliott is a sports writer for the Coeur d’Alene Press. He can be reached by telephone at (208) 664-8176, Ext. 2020 or via email at jelliott@cdapress.com. Follow him on Twitter @JECdAPress.

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