SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. -- The last line on the javelin field at the PIAA championships is at 220 feet. About 40 feet behind the last line is woods.
Bill Stanley nearly put his javelin into the wilderness Saturday, but don't blame the PIAA for a short javelin area. Stanley threw where no high school athlete has before.
Stanley, a senior at South Park, didn't just win the PIAA Class AAA title, he set a national record when he threw the javelin 246 feet, 9 inches at Shippensburg University.
The old National Federation of High Schools record was 244-2, set in 2010 by Sam Crouser of Gresham High School in Oregon (NFHS records can only be set at state championship meets or NFHS-sanctioned meets).
Stanley had the second-best throw in the country this season at 234-9. Then, on his first throw of the Class AAA final, he drew oohs and ahhs from the fans watching and had PIAA judges clamoring. After measuring the record throw once, the PIAA brought out the metal tape just to make sure it would be recognized by the NFHS. It was a throw for the ages by the compact 5-foot-10, 190-pound Stanley. Crouser had broken a record that stood since 1988.
"I thought he'd win and I thought he'd break the state record. But this?" said South Park track coach Jeff Hufnagel. "I had never videotaped anything by him before, but, for this one, I pulled out my iPhone and videotaped it."
That's a video worth keeping. The funny thing was the PIAA mistakenly omitted Stanley's name from the championship meet program. No big deal. Stanley is now in a more important book -- the national record book.
"At practice Thursday, I was throwing it well, so I had a feeling I was going to get one to really go," Stanley said. "Then, when I let it go, it just kept going."
His throw brought some to tears.
"As I was walking out [to get the javelin after the record throw], it was pretty memorable," Stanley said. "My coaches were bawling their eyes out. I could see all my family crying."
The PIAA Class AAA record was 224-2. Stanley beat that by a mere 22 feet, 7 inches. Stanley said his record throw felt nearly effortless.
"Everything was right," he said. "It didn't even feel like I threw it that hard."
For more on high school sports, go to "Varsity Blog" at www.post-gazette.com/varsityblog. Mike White: email@example.com or 412-263-1975. Twitter @mwhiteburgh. First Published May 27, 2012 4:00 AM