Javelin thrower excited to return to track after missing all of last season with injury

Josh Johnston

Bekah Stolz, sophomore thrower for the Kent track and field team, won the javelin competition at the USA Junior Outdoor Track and Field Championships last spring. However, a tear in her ACL caused setbacks in her javelin carreer. Elizabeth Myers | Daily

Credit: DKS Editors

Bekah Stoltz was excited for the start of the 2007 outdoor season. The sophomore was coming off a successful freshman year where she won the javelin at the USA Junior Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Stoltz didn’t expect her first meet of the season to be her last though.

Last year, at the Clif Bar Invitational in Temple, Ariz., Stoltz tore her anterior cruciate ligament while throwing the javelin. The injury to her left knee abruptly ended her promising season.

“I was really excited about my year,” Stoltz said about last year. “My second year I was ready to just go out and throw and be excited about what distances I’d be able to hit. That all came to an end during spring break on our first outdoor competition.”



Where: Gettler Stadium, Cincinnati

When: Friday-Saturday, all day

The Flashes compete against teams from every corner of Ohio this weekend. From the Mid-American Conference, Akron, Bowling Green, Ohio, Miami and Toledo will challenge Kent State in Cincinnati.

Stoltz tore her ACL on her fifth throw. Kent State throws coach Nathan Fanger was at her side immediately.

“When I saw her go down I jumped a fence, cut up my arm,” Fanger said. “It’s tough when you see one of your key athletes go down, because you know they have a big road ahead of them.”

Since that meet in Arizona, Stoltz has been on a year-long road back to recovery. Coach Bill Lawson said rehabilitating from an ACL tear is a daunting task.

“It’s a daily grind,” he said, “seven days a week with physical therapy, strength training, neuromuscular training.”

“You have to be focused on the task at hand of getting better so you can come back and compete another day. Bekah has done a wonderful job in that she’s never lost focus.”

Stoltz said the rehab process was one of the most painful experiences she ever went through.

“The Kent State athletic training program had me start my rehab basically right after surgery,” she said. “The first couple months were very strenuous.”

Stoltz is no stranger to knee injuries, either. She said she had a similar injury to her right knee in high school.

“I already knew what to expect, how to rehab,” she said. “I knew that I could handle this since I did it before.”

After red-shirting the rest of the 2007 outdoor season and the following indoor season, Stoltz is back on the team. However, in order for her to throw her best again, she said it’s going to take a lot of trust.

“Sometimes the scar tissue left behind gives me some pain,” she said. “It’s just something I have to work out. It’s trusting my leg is actually fully together and can handle anything I put into it.”

Lawson and Fanger both said Stoltz will have to overcome mental barriers with her return.

“She’ll have to learn how to compete at that high level again without fear,” Lawson said. “I think her knees are better than they’ve ever been her entire life. Now she just needs to get back into competition mode and good things will happen.”

Lawson said once she gets over her fears, “she’s going to be a force to be reckoned with.”

Fanger said he thinks Stoltz is mentally strong enough to make a comeback. She will have to trust her knee though.

“Coming off an injury like that you don’t know how the athlete’s going to be able to respond,” he said. “Mentally, she’s in the right place, but at the same time does she actually trust that knee?”

By her performance in the first two outdoor meets this season, Stoltz appears to trust her knee. She’s placed first at both the Duke Invitational and the Northeast Ohio Quad along with throwing a regional qualifying mark. Stoltz said she wasn’t nervous going back into her first meet.

“I was very excited,” she said. “I wanted to throw better than I actually did, but I’m glad that I got the regional mark out of the way.”

Contact sports correspondent Josh Johnston at [email protected].