Five-time state champion, four-time regional champion and multiple state and regional record-holding javelin thrower Tyler Fitzgerald finished fifth nationally amongst his age group at the AAU Club National Championships at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports this summer.
It was the soon-to-be seventh grader’s fourth national meet, coming just before other sports (like football) and fall school responsibilities gobble the 12-year-old away from track and field until early spring.
Tyler’s introduction to the event came through his father, John, who grew up a thrower, specializing in the shotput and discus events and branching into the javelin when he was just two years older than Tyler is currently. John said he even threw javelin in his college’s conference meet in an effort to score more overall points for his squad.
Then came Tyler. Eventually, he started showing interest in track and field. He initially tried the long-jump, and a year later the Fitzgeralds started introducing Tyler to more and more events. Eventually came his time to sling the javelin.
That’s where he excelled.
“I spend a lot of time practicing it which probably helps me have a better technique,” Tyler said. “I’m also pretty fast and the javelin is about speed and having a quick arm.”
He was touching on why he thought he was so successful in the event. His practice schedule includes throwing every few days, with a handful of drills and technique work. In the offseason he says he doesn’t have as much time to tend to his craft, but in the early spring through August Tyler spends his time grinding in a sport most middle schoolers may only see once every four years.
Javelin isn’t popular in Oklahoma track and field. That means not a whole lot are exposed to it, but neighboring states start joining come time for regional meets. Included in those regional states is Kansas. Reportedly, Kansas is one of the leading states in high school javelin competitions in the United States.
Tyler has won four regional titles going against them, too.
Even after regionals — which includes aforementioned Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri — Tyler’s success has continued. In his four national tournaments, his best finish came in his first year of competition when he was eight. He finished runner-up.
Through four regional titles and five state championships, Tyler says he’s really enjoyed traveling to fill his competitive desire. He also hopes more competitors will join him in Oklahoma’s javelin scene.
“It’s fun to travel all over to compete,” Tyler said. “The javelin is a lot of fun and I wish we did it in high school in Oklahoma.”