Stellar threesome debuts with 2018-19 Project Javelin Gold

by Steve Underwood

As the NSAF’s Project Javelin Gold begins its 8th season in 2018-19, excitement is high with the three top girls in the Class of 2021 joining the Project for the first clinic of the year at Sioux Falls, S.D., August 8-12. Sydney Juszczyk (Trinity Catholic, MO *sophomore), Katelyn Fairchild (Andale, KS *sophomore) and Alianna Eucker (Bergen Tech, NJ *sophomore) join the squad’s five returnees (four boys, one girl) for a powerful group of eight student-athletes.

(* -- Class for 2018-19)

Those returnees include Skylar Ciccolini, Zechariah Blake, Ty Hampton, Sam Hankins and Joe Nizich. The super frosh trio introduced above take the place of the Project’s outstanding 2018 graduates – who head to the collegiate ranks: Dana Baker, Lillian Hill and Roman Mitchell.

As mentioned, the first Project clinic of the year will again be held with our partners from Sanford Sports Science Institute on their outstanding campus in Sioux Falls. The season will include two additional clinics, with details forthcoming in the weeks soon ahead. The Project also typically has international camps every other year, with a great week of training and competition having taken place in Jena, Germany five weeks ago.

Here’s a closer look at the three Project Javelin Gold newcomers:

Sydney Juszczyk

With matching throws of 161-8 bracketing her 2018 season, Sydney Juszczyk not only was the top 9th grade javelinist in the country, but one of the best for her age, all-time. After winning a pair of Junior Olympic national titles with Ultimate Speed Academy to finish her 8th grade year, Juszczyk first hit that 161-8 mark in an invitational in April, then stayed consistent in the 140s to win district, sectional and Class 3 state titles for Trinity Catholic in Missouri. Juszczyk then boldly contested the USA Junior meet, throwing against girls and women up to four years older, and finished an impressive 8th with 150-2. Finally, at American JavFest, she reprised her PR while taking runner-up to Project senior Dana Baker – who was about to become the World U20 silver medalist.

As remarkable as Juszczyk’s rise in the sport has been, those who have seen her throw a football are probably less surprised. It speaks volumes about her athletic talent and leadership that she played four years of boys’ youth football as a quarterback and linebacker. She has played basketball and volleyball, as well, and rides dirt bikes and 4-wheelers for fun. Juszczyk’s track and field skills also go well beyond the javelin: She has triple jumped more than 36 feet and also has solid marks in the long jump, high hurdles and 200.

Katelyn Fairchild

In the state where first-year Project standouts Dana Baker and Sam Hankins reigned supreme, Katelyn Fairchild has emerged as the top young talent in 2018. Having been consistent from the high 120s to the high 130s in the javelin during her freshman year at Andale HS, she scored a big breakthrough victory in her 4A region #9 meet with a 149-6 PR – landing her at the #2 spot among U.S. 9th-graders. While she wasn’t quite able to duplicate that throw at her 4A state meet, Fairchild still hit 139-8 – her 2nd best of the year – to take 4th place.

Fairchild is an outstanding all-around thrower and while javelin might be her best event, she also achieved top-6 finishes in Kansas 4A in the discus (122-9, with season PR of 127-5) and shot put (36-3, with PR of 38-0) – helping her team to a state team title. Incidentally, she had been unbeaten in ’17 in the shot put (with a lighter middle-school implement), reaching 43-1.25. Fairchild has even thrown the hammer 112 feet, three inches.

Alianna Eucker

Alianna Eucker showed the javelin community her considerable talent as an 8th grader in ’17, taking 3rd in the USATF JO 13-14 national final with a throw of 127-1. She improved that mark two feet to start her frosh year at Bergen Tech, winning her first meet, and she just kept moving up from there. Eucker earned a spot in the prestigious Penn Relays, where she was a surprising 6th behind future teammate Skylar Ciccolini, PR’ing again at 132-10. Her next big step up came in her New Jersey Group 4 meet, where she claimed the state title at 137-10 – which led to a Meet of Champions berth where she broke the 140-foot barrier with a PR 140-3 bronze medal finish.

The post-season wasn’t quite as fruitful to Eucker, but she took 7th in her first NBNO meet at 128-4, then finished with her #3 performance of the season in a 136-0 5th-place finish at the American JavFest. The javelin is far from Eucker’s only track and field event. She not only is a solid shot putter (34-9.75) and discus thrower (118-9), but has high jumped 4-8 as well. She competed in the pentathlon at USATF JOs last year, taking 4th in her region meet.

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