By Doug Drowley
Special to The Seattle Times
Patricelli rides big arm to javelin success
The arm always was there.
Denham Patricelli played baseball all his life growing up.
“I wasn’t very good,” Patricelli said. “But I played outfield and I’d just be out there and throw people out.”
Patricelli stuck with baseball through his junior high years. But at a 6th grade track meet, Patricelli, now a senior at Tahoma High, found another outlet for his big arm.
Patricelli is the best thrower of the javelin at least in the state of Washington, and among the best in his age group nationally. On Wednesday, Patricelli easily won the South Puget Sound League sub-district title in the event on an “off day.”
Come the state 4A meet on May 29-31, he will defend the state title he won a year ago as a junior. That title came just a year after Patricelli suffered through an injury common to baseball players – and specifically pitchers – that puts the same kind of stress on an elbow that a javelin thrower does.
In May of 2012, Patricelli had Tommy John surgery.
“He tweaked his elbow the second meet of his sophomore year,” Tahoma throwing coach Keith Eager said. “It ended up, it just never got better.”
As the postseason approached, Patricelli went in to see a doctor. Surgery followed.
It’s a procedure that most professional ballplayers take at least a year from which to recover. Patricelli won the state title almost exactly a year after his.
“We took the season pretty slow,” Eager said. “Finally after spring break, he threw some javelin.”
As late as just before the league meet a year ago, Patricelli was throwing only in the 150s and 160s. He’d thrown the javelin 175 feet at state as a freshman to place ninth.
The summer after that season, Eager talked Patricelli into doing some summer track, “the key,” Eager said, “to success.”
Patricelli went back to summer nationals. He threw 191 feet and won the boys intermediate national title. At the time, it was a personal record.
“We kind of figured out fairly early that he was going to be pretty good,” Eager said. “He’s a good athlete. Has good timing.”
Less than two years later, Patricelli was back throwing in the 160s. At the start of May a year ago, Patricelli still needed to qualify to get to state. He did, then ran away and hid once state rolled around.
Patricelli threw 170 feet on his first throw a year ago. He threw 193 on his second, then popped to 205 feet on his third throw.
“After that, it was pretty much over,” Eager said. “Actually, it was really kind of a cool season, the way it went.”
This season, Patricelli already has thrown 220 feet. His collegiate choice was a no-brainer – the University of Washington.
“It was very easy,” Patricelli said. “I’m a third-generation Husky.”
His dad, Jim, went to UW. His grandfather, Ron Patricelli, was a sprinter on the Husky track team.
The plan is that Patricelli will enter UW as a two-time state champ. But on Wednesday, Patricelli wasn’t pleased despite his winning throw of 176 feet, 5 inches. His closest competitor went 159.
“I’ve been in a slump for like, a month,” Patricelli said. “Where I can’t keep it between the two lines I’m supposed to.”
In other words, Patricelli has developed a golf malady – the shanks. He’s been constantly throwing out of bounds to the right.
It hasn’t kept Patricelli from winning, just excelling to the levels he expects of himself.
“I am very competitive,” Patricelli said. “I like to win.”
Eager, on Thursday, said he thought they had corrected the issues during practice.
“It doesn’t take that much to be off in javelin,” Eager said. “But if you fix a few things, it’s also doesn’t take that much to be on.”
Early league results
Seattle Prep’s Joe Hardy got a stiff challenge on Day 1 of the Metro 3A Championships on Wednesday. Hardy won the 1,600 meters in 4:14.85. But Nathan Hale’s Max Leach was right there to finish second at 4:15.02.
In Wesco 3A, Mountlake Terrace sophomore Chinne Okoronkwo improved her state-leading long jump mark to 18-9.75.
And at the Kingco 4A Day 1 meet, Garfield’s Cameron Stanish turned in the fastest 1,600 time in the state this season at 4:10.29.
Post-Season underway in a big way
This week marks the beginning of the run to state, with most local league meets being contested. Below is the compiled schedule for Friday’s major events happening in and around the area:
SPSL 4A: Day 2 at Kent’s French Field (3:30 p.m.)
Kingco 3A/4A: Day 2 at Redmond High (3:30 p.m.)
Metro: Day 2 at Chief Sealth (Both 3:30 p.m.)
Wesco 4A: Day 2 at Arlington
Wesco 3A: Day 2 at Marysville-Pilchuck
Cascade/Kingco: Cedarcrest Stadium, Duvall (4 p.m.)
Who’s going where?
Amherst – Aedan Roberts, Nathan Hale
BYU – Ellie Heiden, Kamiakin
Brown – Andrew Foerder, Nathan Hale
California – Max Leach, Nathan Hale
Cal Poly – Devon Grove, Lake Washington
UCSD – Aubrey Ward-El, Skyview
Citadel – Elizabeth Webster, Bishop Blanchet
Connecticut College – Grace Sheeran, Bellevue
Gonzaga – Jack Pearce, Mountlake Terrace
Harvard – Floriane Kameni, Bellevue
Hawaii (Manoa) – Karen Bulger, Olympia
Idaho – Brock Eager, Tahoma
Kansas – Dorie Dalzell, Skyline; Olivia Vincent, Holy Names
Loyola Marymount – Chris Fredlund, Squalicum
Mississippi – Brooke Feldmeier, Tumwater
Montana – Jenna Dukovcic, Mark Morris
North Carolina – Logan Carroll, Gig Harbor
Notre Dame – Alex Daugherty, Skyline
Oklahoma – Hannah Cunliffe, Federal Way
Oregon State – Nicole Goecke, Prairie
Portland – Logan Orndorf, Cedarcrest
Princeton – Wolfgang Beck, Gig Harbor; Lane Russell, Tumwater
San Francisco – Quentin Purtzer, Bellarmine Prep
Seattle – Jason Cowan, Kennedy Catholic
Seattle Pacific – Sophie Carroll, Central Kitsap
Stanford – Isaiah Brandt-Sims, Wenatchee
Washington U. (St. Louis) – Audrey Western, University
Washington – Megan Beauchene, Kamiakin; Rose Christen, Central Kitsap; Hannah Derby, Bellarmine Prep; Lyndsay Leatherman, Arlington; Denham Patricelli, Tahoma
WSU – Jonathan Green, Ephrata; Zachary Smith, Olympic
Weber State – Emily Morgan, Columbia River
William & Mary – Jaren Sinsheimer, Bellarmine Prep
William Jewell – Elizabeth Stevenson, Port Angeles
Wisconsin – Joe Hardy, Seattle Prep; Kai Wilmot, North Central
Know an athlete committed to college for track and field? Email Doug Drowley at email@example.com.