Christine Streisel is Tamaqua's latest national-level javelin performer

The junior is defending Class 2A PIAA champion, ranked No. 2 nationally.

Christine Streisel spent 12 years throwing a baseball and softball.

But it took just one time seeing former Tamaqua High School standouts Casey Wagner and Allison Updike toss the javelin to convert the eighth-grader in the summer of 2008.

Streisel didn't shy away from the hard work it took to learn the new sport.

A little more than three years later, the 16-year-old junior is among the country's best high schoolers in the javelin.

The Tamaqua junior is ranked second nationally in the javelin with a personal best of 160 feet, 11 inches, which came last month at the Blue Raider Invitational. It was a stadium and event record, but she remains 3 inches shy of Updike's school record of 161-2 — which came in a PIAA gold medal-winning performance in 2010.

Wagner and Updike each won three PIAA medals in the event and currently are college stars at the University of South Florida and University of Georgia, respectively.

It appears Streisel can reach at least that level of success.

She was one of three girls invited to Project Klutan Keihas, a National Scholastic Sports Foundation-funded program that brings the United States' best with their counterparts from Finland — which produces the world's best in the javelin.

Streisel went to Chapel Hill, N.C., twice in the last three months of 2011 for that camp of the nation's elite. She'll go to Finland this summer to continue to get top-level instruction from the likes of Jeff Gorski, 1972 Olympic bronze medalist Bill Schmidt and world-renowned Finnish national coach Kari Ihalainen.

"I did it because [Wagner and Updike] threw the javelin," Streisel said. "It is crazy to think where this all started."

It started with Wagner's parents asking John Kotchmar to help their daughter with the javelin when she was in middle school. Kochmar is a 1985 Tamaqua graduate who won a District 11 javelin title.

Wagner finished fifth, fourth and second in the state her last three seasons at Tamaqua. Last spring at South Florida, she was second at the Big East Championships.

Updike was fourth, seventh and first at states before a knee injury ended her senior season in 2010. She's now the two-time Southeastern Conference freshman of the week at Georgia.

Streisel jumped from fifth in the state as a freshman to first last season.

"That was a huge motivating factor, winning states," Streisel said. "My first day [at Tamaqua], I threw it 200 times into the ground. I worked over the summer with Casey and Allison here throwing. They helped me more by getting me to work out to see what I might be able to do."

Streisel's work ethic was never her problem, according to Kotchmar.

"She wants to do it," the Tamaqua assistant coach said. "She never says no. She's now learning that you've got to be a student of the javelin instead of just working hard at it."

Streisel trains each Sunday with some of the state's top high school male and female javelin competitors at a nearby facility.

It is there where she is pushed. She doesn't get much competition during the regular-season dual meets and local invitationals.

But Streisel realizes she has to continue to develop that competitive edge leading up to the District 11 and PIAA meets rather than flip a switch in mid- and late-May.





Look for this special section in your
Baltimore Sun newspaper on Dec. 29, 2013.
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