It says everything about the reverence Nixa athletes have for former Eagles star Chase Allen that Koby Graham was worried about Allen’s reaction upon breaking his school javelin record.
Graham unleashed a throw of 189-0 at the Southwest Baptist Invite last month to shatter Allen’s six-year-old record of 181-7. At the same meet, the Eagles’ Casen Hammitt posted a throw of 181-8.
“(Allen) heard about it and wasn't upset or anything,” Graham said. “He was actually very supportive and kind. He sent a message to (assistant coach Phil Wickwar) and wanted to congratulate us on our achievement.”
Graham and Hammitt would have never guessed their names would stand above Allen’s when they first started throwing the javelin a year ago.
“Koby and I were talking about that record and we were saying, 'That throw seems impossible, there's no way we're going to be able to hit that,’” Hammitt said. “We couldn't even perceive doing that last year. Then, we ended up breaking his record this year. We were blown away. Kudos to (Allen). He set a goal for us.”
“To beat a record held by someone like him, it feels unreal,” Graham said.
Graham and Hammitt finished second and third to Ozark’s Ryan Dotson at the COC Meet on Friday. Throwing into a slight breeze, Graham posted a 170-5 and Hammitt turned in a 163-8.
Graham and Hammitt built up arm strength from their days playing baseball. Both played baseball through their sophomore year.
Naturally, though, they didn’t take to the javelin naturally.
“The first time I went out for javelin, it didn't go so well,” Graham said. “I guess I needed to pick up on the technique more. No one is going to come out and be really good on the first day. The more you learn, the better you get.”
“We worked in the off-season to get better,” Hammitt said. “We figured out our technique.”
Dotson has taken note of the great strides they have made.
“They have improved a lot,” Dotson said. “They are super consistent and have learned how to get more power out of their hips and more whip out of their arm.”
The fact Graham and Hammitt are best friends has also spurred them on.
“It's always going to be a competition between you and your best friend to win this or that,” Graham said.
Likewise, going against a competitor the likes of Dotson at nearly every meet has provided great motivation.
“He's a really good competitor and it's great to have a conversation with him,” Hammitt said. “It's always good to have him pushing us forward.”
“I’ve got to know him a lot better this year,” Graham said. “I didn't talk to him much last year. I didn't talk to any of the competition much. I was wanting to dial in and look for a way to not like them.
“This year, I wanted to change that and look at the competition as someone to join forces with and create new friendships,” he added. “It's not good to have rivals that you hate. It's good to see them as friendly competition.”