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Long tossers

Sky isn’t the limit for EWU’s Kellerman, Arakawa

As the javelin left her hand toward the second-best mark in Eastern Washington University history, Cora Kellerman felt absolutely nothing. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.

“On a really good throw, there’s no muscle memory,” said Kellerman, recalling her first attempt in the finals of the Duane Hartman meet in Spokane on April 27.

“You don’t feel anything.”

The feeling changed when her mark was announced: 170 feet, a personal best by 27 feet and the 10th-best effort in Division I this year.

Not bad for someone who figuratively chucked that spear in the closet five years ago to concentrate on volleyball.

“I was definitely excited,” Kellerman said, recalling one of the biggest days for Eastern Washington throwers. Teammate and fellow senior Michelle Coombs finished second with a throw of 164-9, fourth best in school history and 14th in the country. Hammer thrower Jordan Arakawa hit a personal best of 213-8 to rank 15th.

“Everything seemed to slow down and things just connected,” said Arakawa, a sophomore from Olympia whose father drove across the state to watch. “Afterwards we went out to eat and I got a nice meal.”

Meanwhile, Kellerman and Coombs were devouring the competition in the javelin. “We were feeding off each other, being really supportive and good competition for each other,” Kellerman said. Both had good throws in the prelims; Kellerman picked up two personal records before the 170-footer on her second attempt in the finals.

Both women had families in the stands. For Kellerman, that included her father, Idaho basketball legend Brian Kellerman, her grandparents, and her mother, who hadn’t seen her throw since her senior year at La Conner High in 2008.

But then, neither had anyone else. Recruited to play volleyball at Eastern, the 6-foot-tall Kellerman did just that – and only that; she excelled as an outside hitter despite losing the entire 2010 season to a rare heart condition.

“Thanks to the medicines, for over a year now, things have been fantastic,” said Kellerman. “That was a complete eye-opener and makes you not take things for granted.”

She played again the last two seasons, but the 2012 season – her last – was marred by some key injuries and the sudden midseason departure of head coach Miles Kydd.

“In hindsight it wasn’t the season that we had anticipated,” Kellerman said. “Life happens, and you can either dwell on it, or pick yourself and keep going.”

With the volleyball season near its end, she kept going, straight down the hall to the office of Eastern women’s track coach Marcia Mecklenburg.

During those five years, “my love for throwing didn’t go away,” said Kellerman, who will graduate next month with a degree in electrical engineering. “They’re completely different and I get a different enjoyment in both of them.”

Kellerman re-introduced herself to Mecklenburg and asked if “there was any way I could compete.” She got the answer she wanted. “I’m just glad to be able to compete in track,” said Kellerman.

And then some. Kellerman, Coombs and Arakawa will be favorites in the Big Sky Conference meet which starts today in Forest Grove, Ore., but nothing has changed except the bigger target on their backs.

“I don’t think that my approach is necessarily any different,” Kellerman said. “There are plenty of other people who are ready for big throws.

“I want to do the best I can in that moment, and I still want to earn the team big points.”

Two weeks later, the NCAA meet will be held down the road in Eugene, Ore.

“My goal is to make it to Eugene,” Arakawa said.

What a feeling that would be.