Sophomore thrower Drew Hess capped off his inaugural collegiate season in May by finishing second at the Atlantic 10 Championships.
This summer, the Eastin, Pennsylvania native competed in the USA Junior Championships in Clovis, California where he came in 9th place.
Hess came close to breaking VCU alumnus Tom Johnson’s school record from 1994, with a heave of 60.72 meters at the ECAC Championships in May. As Hess prepares to enter his 2016 season, he sat down with the Commonwealth Times to discuss what fans can expect from him this season.
What drew you into track and field and the javelin throw specifically?
It started in high school. I had played baseball from tee-ball all through high school. And then I decided I was going to go out for the track team. I originally started as a distance runner and the first day of practice they were like “oh we are going to do three to five miles” and I was like “yeah, no.” So I moved on to the throw events and this was the one I was best at.
What would you consider the highlight of last season?
My second place finish at A-10’s. It was just an accumulation of a rough season, but on the very last throw I was able to make second place.
Last season you kept shattering your personal records, adding a total of seven meters to your throw, what do you hope to accomplish this season?
Biggest goal for the season is just to stay healthy the whole time and see good improvement.
What are the key elements to your javelin technique?
I would say it’s mostly about being able to stay closed, so like being able to stay closed up until the very last moment, and then being able to put all your energy directly through the javelin so that you have a nice clean flight.
During a throw when you plant your foot and release the javelin — can you tell if it is going to be a good or bad throw?
Yeah usually as soon as you hit, it’s called the block, so as soon as you hit the block usually you have a feeling. Once you release it, usually as soon as it’s gone, you know whether it’s going to be a good or bad throw. You get the feeling.
What do you do to prepare yourself for a meet and get yourself ready to throw?
The day before (the meet) we usually make a few throws nice and easy and just get settled into my routine.
(Before the meet I) eat a bag of gummy bears, Haribos. It’s kind of like my pre-meet tradition.
Could you narrate the mental process that goes through your head on your approach?
Usually before every throw, I try to focus on my cadence, of like my run up. So I count them off. My left, it would be like one left one … two … three … four … and I withdraw the javelin and go into my crossover one … two … it’s called the penultimate step and then you block and then after that it’s just helping your arm guide the javelin down.
You recently competed in the USA Junior Championships and placed 9th, what are your goals as a competitive athlete in the future?
Well … professional javelin for the most part does not exist in this country, so just to make it as far as I can collegiately and based off my performance go on from there … so we will see what happens and how my season progresses.
Keyris Manzanares, Contributing Writer