West Xtra: West Allegheny soph pointing for javelin title

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When the Mason family gets together for a meal, the talk invariably centers around the track and field exploits of Skyler Mason.

Of course, that's with good reason. Mason, a 5-foot-9, 170-pound sophomore from Oakdale, is making quite a name for himself throwing the javelin.

Last week, at a meet that took place at Blackhawk High School, Mason turned in the top reported throw of the season to date with an effort of 186 feet, 11 inches. That effort broke the West Allegheny school record of 184-5 that was set in 2009 by Ben Simmen.

"When the season began, we were just hoping he'd throw the state meet qualifying standard which is 178 feet," said Mason's father, Rik Mason, who is in his seventh season on the West Allegheny coaching staff and also is Skyler's throwing coach.

To date, Rik Mason, has the family's top javelin effort with a throw of 198 feet, 8 inches.

"But that took place when I was a senior at Hiram [College]," the elder Mason said. "Skyler reminds me of that."

The younger Mason -- who is 16 years old -- puts a lot of effort into the javelin, the only event he competes in for the West Allegheny High track team. He lifts weights before his morning classes, and he devotes a lot of time to stretching before he loosens up his right arm and then attempts some throws either in practice or at a meet.

After a meet, he'll take the video that is shot of him and does some film study when he returns home.

When he does study film, he relies on the example of South Park High School graduate Billy Stanley, the finest athlete to throw the javelin in the WPIAL. Stanley, who threw the javelin a state-record 246 feet, 9 inches at the 2012 PIAA Class AAA championships at Shippensburg University, now competes for Ohio State.

"I watch a video of him at the [2012] WPIAL meet, and my throws of [my most recent meet] are on the screen next to his," Skyler Mason said. "Watching him helps me to see what I can improve on and what I'm doing wrong. Watching video of him has been a big help this season."

Because Skyler Mason already has surpassed the state standard, both he and his father/coach have high hopes for the season.

"We haven't hit the good weather," Rik Mason said. "The possibility is there for him to hit 200 feet, but we're going to have to keep working."

Skyler Mason allows that it would be "awesome" to throw 200 feet, but he was quite pleased with the school mark that he set last week.

"I was very excited, and my dad gave me a big hug," he said. "I haven't talked to Ben since I set the record, but my dad coached Ben when he was in school."

Skyler Mason did not qualify for the WPIAL meet a year ago as a freshman. He hopes to rectify that this season and be able to compete where Stanley entered the record book just two years ago.

"My goal is to make the state meet," he said. "I want to get to the state meet, take in the atmosphere and learn from that experience for future meets. Beyond that, I hope to compete in college, but that's in the back of my mind right now."

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