3A Track

Hermiston’s Jazlyn Romero is the top-ranked 3A javelin thrower headed into the state track and field championships this weekend in Tacoma. Romero will compete on Saturday.

No. 10 in the nation. No. 3 in Washington, and the top-ranked 3A javelin thrower heading into state.

While all that looks impressive, Hermiston junior Jazlyn Romero said she doesn’t let the numbers get in her head.

“I try not to let it blow up my ego,” she said. “Anything can happen when you are competing. At the Pasco Invite, I was the only one from Oregon competing. To them, I came out of nowhere.”

The same will happen at the 3A State Track and Field Championships this weekend at Mt. Tahoma High School in Tacoma.

With Hermiston joining the WIAA this school year, Romero will be an unknown to most — Kennewick’s Madeline Gebers has gotten a dose of Romero all spring.

“Knowing we were going into the WIAA, I kept an eye on throwers,” said Romero, who will compete Saturday. “They had no idea I was coming.”

Romero’s seed mark at state is 143 feet, but her top mark going into state is 151-9.

Ella Haskins of Bishop Blanchet has thrown 128-2, and Gebers 126-11. The field of 16 throwers ranges from 100-9 to Romero’s top mark.

“Every day is a new challenge,” Romero said. “The javelin is very technical — you can’t perfect it.”

Hermiston coach Emilee Strot said Romero has the talent and mental toughness to find herself with a gold medal on Saturday.

“What I appreciate most, is she has confidence, but she is humble,” Strot said. “She is going in like she is not the best in the state. She is going in like every other meet — to be on the top of the podium. She will not consider herself the best until it’s over.”

Improving on good

As a freshman, Romero was less than a foot shy of earning a spot to state. She finish third (110-1) at district behind teammates Makayla Akers and Madelyn Juul.

As a sophomore, she improved by leaps and bounds, throwing a season-best 142-10 to finish second behind Pendleton’s Emanuela Casadei (143-3), an exchange student from Italy, at the Intermountain Conference district meet.

Romero went on to finish third at the Oregon 5A state meet with a mark of 134-3. Casadei won with a toss of 145-4.

“She told me after state, ‘Don’t give up, I want to hear good things about you in Italy,’ ” Romero said of Casadei. “It’s amazing how she connected with all of us.”

The competition in the Mid-Columbia Conference this spring has not been as stiff as Romero had hoped. She has won every meet but two this season — she was sixth at the Pasco Invite, and second at the Dean Nice Invite in Gresham.

“That’s the hardest part,” Romero said. “You just have to try and stay positive and be better than yourself the day before.”

Romero threw her PR of 151-9 at the MCC district meet in Hermiston, and celebrated with Strot.

“It was in the air for so long, I thought it had to be far,” Romero said. “All I heard was 150, and coach and I are jumping up and down like little girls.”

Romero has flourished under the tutelage of Strot, a former college thrower who qualified for the NCAAs in the shot put and discus when she competed at UC Berkeley and Kentucky.

“We are really fortunate with the coaches we have,” Romero said. “It’s not every day you have four former Division I athletes on your staff.”

Romero has endeared herself to Strot, who first saw Romero on the basketball court the summer before her freshman year.

“She is standing out in the track and field world,” Strot said. “She is so strong and explosive, and brilliant in the classroom and on the court. I’m excited to see what she does. She is already getting phone calls and letters.”

Despite her success, Romero said she still gets a few butterflies before each meet.

“I always get a little nervous, but once I get into the environment and on the runway, everything is fine,” she said. “I just take a deep breath and let it fly.”

That’s when everyone else gets nervous.

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