Distance is a concept that Oklahoma sophomore javelin thrower Garrett Snow is growing very familiar with.
For instance, the distance from Norman, Okla. to Snow’s hometown of Eagle Point, Ore. is 1,892 miles. An equally important number is 227 feet and four inches, which is the distance that is taking him back home to Oregon.
The distance of 227-4 is how far Snow threw the javelin at the NCAA preliminary meet two weeks ago in Fayetteville, Ark., earning his trip to compete in the NCAA Championships Saturday in Eugene, Ore.
“Once I heard that the finals were going to be there for the next couple of years, it definitely gave me even more reason to set making it as a goal,” Snow said. “It is good, though. It has been a long time since I’ve been back, about five months, so I will have the chance to see my family.
“I am kind of nervous, just because a lot of people are going to be there from my home town. It’ll be nice, though. They don’t get to see a lot of meets.”
Oklahoma throws coach Brian Blutreich, who has already celebrated a national runner-up this week in the javelin on the women’s side, explained that getting Snow back to Oregon was a goal from when the two first started working together.
“The goal was to get him back home and compete,” Blutreich said. “His journey to Eugene has been a little different than some of the favorites, but he is super excited.”
While the experience of competing at the highest level of competition the NCAA has to offer is a new experience for Snow, competing at historic Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon is not. Snow’s previous visit to Hayward Field was as a senior at Eagle Point High School, where he won the Oregon state championship in the javelin.
“We had state championships there every year, and it is a pretty fun place,” Snow explained. “I am familiar with it, so maybe there is an advantage. This is a much bigger stage than the times I was there in high school. This is the national collegiate meet, so the two don’t really even compare.”
Snow’s first year as a collegiate student-athlete was at California’s College of the Siskiyous where Snow won the JUCO state meet. After spending his first year away from home in California, he made the decision to transfer to OU prior to the start of his sophomore season.
“The program,as well as Coach Blutreich, definitely made the decision an easy one,” Snow said. “He definitely has the background to prove that he is an excellent coach who could help me succeed. That was enough to bring me to OU.”
In his first season at Oklahoma, Snow has wasted no time making a big splash. The sophomore burst on to the scene at the Sooners’ lone home meet this season in April. He recorded the second best mark in program history with a 228-10. In addition to starting strong, Snow closed his season with two runner-up finishes, the first at the Big 12 Championships and then at the NCAA West Prelims.
Blutreich attributes the success that Snow has experienced to the process of learning the ropes and becoming more comfortable.
“I think he has gotten a lot better, and not just with throwing, which he has improved a ton. This is the first year he has lived far away,” Blutreich explained. “He is from the Pacific Northwest and the Midwest is a little different. You can tell he is a lot more comfortable now than when he first got here when he didn’t know what to expect.
“He just seems comfortable. When you are having a lot of success, it is easier than when you are struggling. Fortunately, he has taken every step that everyone is asking him to do. The moment they (student-athletes) start having success, they start believing in the coaches. The bond is going to get stronger and the success is going to keep growing.”
Snow agrees with his coach and adds another reason he has been successful this season is finding that comfort zone as well as growing as an athlete during his time in Oklahoma.
“A lot of the success I have had has to do with getting comfortable with what we were trying to do in the offseason. I am finally able to do what my mind wants to do and my body is getting into all of the positions I want it to,” Snow continued.
“I definitely have learned a lot from the fall semester to now. I feel like here at the end of the season I have really been able to apply what I have been trying to understand and work toward all offseason. Everything is finally starting to come together, which is nice.”
With all of the season’s hard work coming to a head this weekend in central Oregon, Blutreich believes that there is no better venue to have a special performance.
“Going home back to Oregon is going to be really special for him. Competing in Eugene is the ultimate venue in this country because of the atmosphere at the University of Oregon, which is called Track Town USA. People love track and there is probably going to be around 20 thousand people there. It will be special. Being from Oregon, he will probably get a little love," Blutreich predicted.
“He is really setting himself up for a good meet this weekend as well as getting himself a good experience. He may blossom into a real potential champion. You never know -- we’ll see.”
Even with all of the excitement surrounding the return home, Snow is quick to point out that making it is not the top goal … finishing strong is.
“I would obviously like to get a PR and make the finals,” Snow said. “The possibility of winning is definitely there. If that happens, I would be ecstatic. I will definitely do all that I can in order to win.
“I really just want to compete for a top eight spot and to be an All-American which is the biggest goal I have going in. We have had some good practices building up to this meet. I definitely feel like I can have my best performance here.”