State Record Snapshot - Javelin - Villegas and Wheeler

While there might not be much track going on in New York State, there is plenty of history to pore through. In our time off, we are looking to revisit all of the State Records for the Outdoor Season. Who these athletes were, where their marks came from, and where are they now. We're releasing "Snapshots Of A State Record," where you can learn what it takes, to put your mark on history. Tune in!

We are now looking at the records in a few events that are not at the outdoor States meet but definitely need to be highlighted. We look here at two records, one from the 1980s and another from 2009. Enjoy!

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As it is for the boys, the situation for the state record in the javelin for the girls is a dual claim, one for the "old javelin" and one for the "new javelin" that was introduced in 1999. The boys javelin was redesigned back in 1986 with a grip that was more likely to make the projectile spear the ground with its front tip instead of landing flat, which makes the determination of the distance more difficult. The other big reason for the redesign was to shorten the distance of the throws, as some of the men's top throwers were exceeding 300 feet and that was considered a dangerous trend. It took 13 more years for changes to be put in place for women. As with the boys, there is some question about whether a new javelin or old javelin was used in competition at the turn of the century as the old equipment was gradually phased out. One difference between the boys and girls javelin throwers in NY is that though the huge majority of throwers come from the downstate area between Sections 9 to 11, there has been a big group of upstate girls getting their spear chucks in T&F also, though usually outside their region. We are honoring two athletes in this Records Snapshot -- the top throw for the old javelin and the top throw for the new javelin, one from 1985 and one from 2009.

Jeanne Villegas was a multisport star for John F. Kennedy Catholic in Somers as she was not only a star in track and field but also a basketball wizard who averaged 24 points a game for the Gaels as a senior for a team that was in the State finals in 1984. As is too frequently the case with girls basketball players though, she tore up her knee as a junior and had meniscus surgery prior to her senior year. Fighting through the pain of not only the knee but also severe back problems, Villegas still managed to set sectional Class B records in the long jump and shot put. But her top event was the javelin, and she set a sophomore class record of 135-7 in 1983 and then broke the state record by more than three feet with a toss of 145-0 as a junior. Injuries limited her opportunities in the javelin as a senior, but she still won the sectional title in the event. Then two months after graduation from JFK on August 9, 1985 at the Empire State Games, Villegas got off a winning throw of 156-11 to crush her own state record by almost 12 feet. She won a partial athletic scholarship to the University of Tennessee and in her freshman year set a school record 185-3 that still stands for the old javelin and exceeds the Vols' new-javelin record by 26 feet.


Like Villegas, Averill Park's Morgan Wheeler was really good in a lot in a lot of different T&F events as she also excelled in the shot put (36-6.25), long jump (17-8.25), and high jump (5-6), all events that helped her win a number of pentathlon championships and place 2nd at States as a senior and lodge herself among the top 10 all-time NY marks for the heptathlon. But it was the javelin (the new one) that Wheeler flat out owns. She holds the state's freshman record of 127-6 from 2006, sophomore tops of 124-10 from 2007, and junior tops of130-4 in 2008. Being from upstate in Section 2, Wheeler had few chances to throw the javelin in scholastic competitions, but each year she made the pilgrimage to the Penn Relays, where she was always the lone NY girl in among a pack of PA and NJ throwers. In her final visit on April 23, 2009, Wheeler earned 5th place with a throw of 133-2 that broke the state's previous new-javelin mark of 130-6 by Megan Faeth of Somers set in 2008. Since then the mark has been approached most closely by Holly Charles of Paul Robeson at 131-10. Wheeler went on to compete with the University of Pennsylvania for four years in a variety of T&F events, and in her senior year she revisited the Penn Relays and took 4th in the Collegiate javelin with an all-time PR of 151-9. She ranks in the top 20 all-time for 6 events for UPenn, with a best of 3rd ranking in the heptathlon.