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Interval Session #48 - Hannah Carson
April 17, 2008

The most common events in which to see prep athletes excelling at the youngest levels, even pre-high school, are the girls distance and sometimes the sprints. But the throws? Usually, size, strength and maturity win out, but in the last year, we’ve seen Conor McCullough, the Kraychirs, Nick Vena and others break the mold.

None more dramatically than Hannah Carson, though. When the Arizona Cheetah prodigy fired the javelin 173-07 last summer, at the USATF JO meet between her 8th and 9th-grade year, not only did that lead the national prep list and make her #2 all-time in the event, but it was #7 on the all-inclusive US list, alongside collegians, pros, and aspiring Olympians.

Hannah was already closing in on 160, impressive enough in itself, but reached an amazing new level with the effort. Now a 9th-grader (but still at Rhodes Jr. High, which feeds Dobson HS 10th-12th-grade in Mesa) an  she has been in the mid-high 160s in three meets this spring, very early in the year for her, and has received a special invitation (not normally extended to those under 16) to compete in the Olympic Trials.

An all-around athlete, who also excels in soccer, softball and other sports, Hannah has begun to develop as a multi-eventer, hanging in the top half of the field at the NIN Pentathlon before a tough 800 dropped her standing. But she’s very solid in jumps, sprints, and hurdles, with a long jump PR of 18 feet and 5-2 in the HJ.

1. Hannah, after your historic mark last year, you've started off very well this year again with all of your 160+ throws, plus your development in the multi events. First, can you tell us the story of how you got interested in the javelin and what you think makes you so uniquely suited for it? I heard being able to throw a football far when you were young had a little to do with it.

When I was about 8 years old, I was doing a Cheetah workout, and between each session I would throw the Turbo Jav that Coach Ted had just introduced to the team. He was amazed that I was able to throw it as far as I had. I threw it like I would a football. This event was very natural for me.

2. Please tell us the story of the day and the meet where you threw your 173 last year. I've read that you didn't even seen the javelin land. What was it like when you realized you had such a monster throw? And how did things change in terms of the attention you got for the sport?

I threw my best throw at the Jr. Olympics, in Walnut, CA July 2007. Prior to this throw, I had fouled with a throw that was over 160 feet, which really pumped me up for my final throw. I did see the javelin land and heard my mom, aunt and family friend Linda screaming. After I realized what had happened, I couldn't stop shaking.

3. What is it (from your perspective) that makes the javelin different, in terms of the strength requirement, from the discus, shot and hammer? Do you view it as a technical event more than a strength event?

I think that all of them are more technique-driven, but strength certainly helps. For me personally, it's more technique, since I haven't started lifting yet. I tried the hammer once. I did not have the technique nor the strength (smiles).

The big throw at USATF JOs (above and below. Photos Louis Carson
4. I've read you come from a large family, including other athletic siblings. Can you tell us about some of those who've had the most influence on you as a athlete and person? Also, how is it having your father as a coach? Most athletes I've talked with like to mention the pros and cons. Is he your only coach or do you have others, too?

Everyone has played a part since I have a very athletic family. My mom and Aunt Dee are always encouraging me and are my biggest fans. But my dad has had the most influence on me as an athlete. He coaches me, he willingly takes me all over the country to compete, and funds most of my travel. I appreciate him doing this because he's not the richest person in the world, but would spent all he had to get me where I needed to go. I like having my dad for a coach because he knows me better than anyone. My javelin coaches are also Mike Chapman, Jim Lothrop and Ted Williams. I was also given great advice from Tom Petranoff.

5. Yeah, I'd read where you've met and spoken with Tom Petranoff, who was once the nation's (and world's) best jav thrower and whose daughter set a lot of records you've broken. Can you tell us about that?

I think I broke her Midget and Youth records. Even though I broke Leigh's records, he still gave me great advice. I thought that was really nice of him.

6. I've heard you have a great interest in other sports, including softball and soccer. What do you like about some of them and how has your interest in them developed compared to track? Are you still playing any of these, or is it just track now?

I play volleyball and soccer during the off-season and I'm currently playing softball and running track. Softball and volleyball are new sports for me. My coaches and others have told me that I've advanced very quickly. They are very surprised when I say it's my 1st or 2nd year playing. I've switched between goalie and forward when I played soccer. Prior to this year, I played for the Tempe Pros a few years ago on a regular basis.

7. We saw you compete in the Nike Indoor Pentathlon. Did your interest in some of these other events come before you started the javelin or after? Do you like the multis as much as the javelin? What areas do you feel you need to work on the most to become a strong heptathlete?

The other events came long before the javelin (with the exception of the 800). I prefer the javelin over the multis. I definitely need to work on the 800.

8. It seems like, given the lack of the javelin in Arizona and the fact that your school district has your class (9th grade) still part of the junior high, that you really kind of have to be on your own in your favorite event. Is that pretty tough or really something you're used to?

It really doesn't bother me because I'm a competitor. But it would be nice to have someone my own age to compete against.

Hannah and father, Stephen at GSW last year. Photo Donna Dye
9. After the huge throw last year, you've been pretty close to that mark in some meets this year. What are the things you're really working on in training these days and are you still trying to get into the Olympic Trials?

I've been extended an invitation to compete in the Olympic Trials on June 27, 2008. I'm very, very excited to be competing. I've had about five training sessions so far this season and have competed in three meets (Willie Williams Classic, Phoenix Invitational and Sun Angels Classic). And I'm looking forward to starting a regular training schedule following my high school season.

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