Old home, new sport for Trojans track standout

A couple months ago, Josh Croswell was a long way from being the best javelin thrower in the South Puget Sound League.

  • Monday, June 2, 2008 7:09pm
  • Sports

Auburn High sophomore Josh Croswell gets ready to let the javelin fly during practice earlier this week. Croswell posted an SPSL 3A-leading mark of 171 feet

Returning from Oklahoma and finding baseball tryouts over, Croswell picked up a javelin – and now leads the SPSL 3A

A couple months ago, Josh Croswell was a long way from being the best javelin thrower in the South Puget Sound League.

Matter of fact, he was a long way from the South Puget Sound League – a little more than 2,000 miles away. And the javelin?

The Auburn High sophomore had never even picked one up – much less thrown it.

Now, more than 171 feet later, Croswell is the man to beat in today’s SPSL 3A sub-district meet at Sumner High School.

“It’s reassuring to be out in front,” said Croswell, who uncorked a career-best toss of 171 feet, 2 inches during last week’s dual-meet finale against Bonney Lake. “I really didn’t know it went 171 until I heard the mark. It felt really good when I threw it. But it felt like a normal throw (of 150-160 feet).”

Croswell is the league leader by more than 13 feet heading into sub-districts. Franklin Pierce senior Dan Squier ranks second in the SPSL at 158-1.

Yet, none of this was even close to being on Croswell’s radar. Though he had lived in Auburn most of his life, he moved to Broken Arrow, Okla., late last summer when his mother found a job there as an elementary school teacher.

Croswell was in Oklahoma. But his heart was still in Washington. So in mid March, Croswell moved back, and now is living in Auburn with his grandparents. His intention was to turn out for baseball, which always had been his springtime sport of choice.

But by then, tryouts had ended, and the Trojans’ roster was set.“I wasn’t going to do anything,” Croswell said. “Then one of my friends talked me into coming out for track.”

Though brand-new to the sport, Croswell picked up the javelin mostly because it just seemed like a good fit.

“I’m not really fast – just average speed,” he said. “But I’m good at throwing, because I’m good at baseball (he plays first base) and football (quarterback).”

Croswell tried the shot put, but hurt his elbow. As for the discus, “I never really committed the time to the technique,” he said.

That left the jav. And while his technique there is still somewhat raw, Trojans throwing coach Jason Irwin, who set the school javelin record of 192-1 in 1998, likes what he has seen.

“Once we get him molded and get his form down, he has the potential to be a solid state player,” Irwin said, adding that such molding can take considerable time, “but some people pick it up faster than others.”

“He hasn’t even scratched the surface” Irwin said. “He throws it correct about 50 percent of the time. And he still throws it far even when he doesn’t throw it correctly.”

Croswell — whose first varsity performance was 117 feet against Franklin Pierce on March 27 — doesn’t want to stop at 171 feet. And he certainly doesn’t want to stop at the league-meet level, either.

“My goal for state, if I make it, is to throw 180,” Croswell said. “And I’d love to throw it better.”

Added Irwin, “I would say 180 isn’t out of the question.”

As for baseball? Croswell said he’ll try to get on a summer league team in order to quench his diamond thirst. But as of now, it seems as if he has a new springtime passion.

“I’m going to stick with this for the next two years,” he said.

She plays soccer during the fall, so Micheal Paulston obviously knows how to run.

Up and down the field. Side to side. Stop and start.

Paulston also knows how to run during the spring, too. Although at this time of year, it’s in circles – or, more correctly, in ovals – while on the track.

And make no mistake: The Auburn High sophomore runs four times around that oval faster than just about anyone else in SPSL 3A.

Paulston will be the second seed behind Sumner junior Hillary Norris for the 1,600 meters in today’s sub-district meet at Sumner. Paulston comes in with a time of 5:13.8; Norris has a 5:09.92.

Last spring, Paulston went 5:10.51 to place sixth in the Star Track state meet. She was the fastest Class 3A freshman in Washington at that distance, and her current time ranks her as the fastest 3A sophomore. (She’s the fifth-fastest sophomore overall, according to listings on www.athletic.net.)

“Through the whole SPSL season (last year), I was dropping five to 10 seconds per race,” Paulston said. “Every time I ran, I ran faster and faster.”

Paulston started this season at 5:44.6, had gotten down as far as 5:25.1, then uncorked her 5:13.8 run in a dual meet against Sumner and Norris on April 29. That was the day Norris posted her 5:09.92.

“My times are significantly faster (than a year ago),” Norris said. “At state, I would like to run in the 4:50 range.”

Added Greg Isham, the Auburn boys head coach and whose specialty is distance, “She’s a great athlete, and she has a natural ability to run. She’s doing relays (Paulston runs on Auburn’s 4-by-200 relay unit), and next year, there’s a strong possibility she can do the 800. She likes the shorter races – being a soccer player, she likes speed.”

Being a soccer player is also why one won’t find standout distance runners on the cross country trails during the fall, since that’s when girls soccer is played.

Just don’t ask her to pick which sport is her favorite.

“I’m kind of torn,” Paulston said. “Soccer is totally different. It’s a team thing. Running is kind of all by yourself.”

Especially if you’re leaving most everyone else behind.

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