Prep track: Jordan QB Kafentzis leading 5A in javelin
Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier was the latest coach to stop by the coaching offices at Jordan High School, just to get a look at and meet Austin Kafentzis.
Kafentzis, the freshman quarterback who led Jordan to the Class 5A semifinals in November, is MaxPreps.com's reigning National Freshman of the Year.
Hours after Nussmeier had come and gone Monday, Kafentzis stood on the track behind the high school, throwing for another set of eyes.
"Sprint!" Kyle Kafentzis yelled at his son.
Austin Kafentzis' walk turned to a trot and then his powerful legs dug into the track and he hurled the long spear in his right hand.
Yeah, he throws javelin, too.
Kafentzis broke the Class 5A record in javelin on Saturday at the Davis Invitational, throwing 190 feet. The overall state record is 195 feet, 5 inches, and Kafentzis is chasing it (although so, too, is Class 3A Delta's Ryan Petersen, who leads the state with a 193-foot, 3-inch throw).
The freshman has a chance to make a statewide statement at this week's BYU Invitational, the biggest meet of the year.
Kafentzis could win in javelin the state title that eluded him in the fall, when he broke his left collarbone in the football semifinals against eventual champion Lone Peak. But javelin was an accidental pursuit.
Kyle Kafentzis is the javelin coach at Jordan, and Austin's uncles all threw javelin. But the young star intended to run track, before shin splints forced him out.
When he turned to javelin, Eric Kjar, the football and track coach, balked.
"He wouldn't let him throw in the beginning," Kyle Kafentzis said, remembering Kjar's words: "'No, you're not ruining my quarterback's arm.' "
But the Kafentzises persisted. Throwing a javelin isn't much different from throwing a football. Standing in the hallway at Jordan, Austin Kafentzis cocked his arm back, holding it behind his back, as if reaching for a relay baton.
"It's the exact same thing as throwing a football," he said, "it's just you're holding it back right here but when you come through, it's the exact same thing."
Kjar relented, for myriad reasons.
"He was good at it," the coach joked. "Once I got to see the throwing motion of it and I wasn't worried about him destroying his shoulder, I wasn't as concerned."
Kafentzis said he struggled at first, that he didn't open his shoulder before throwing and that his toe pointed to the side, instead of forward. But once he figured it out â¦
"In four weeks he went from 120 to 190," Kyle Kafentzis said.
Kyle Kafentzis said he and his brothers all competed in javelin and all threw beyond 200 feet, but that was before a new javelin introduced to Utah high schools in 2002 created a need for new record books. But the father and coach believes his son has the skill and strength to eclipse 220 feet, maybe this year.
Maybe that's just a dad talking. Maybe it's a coach.
But the son, the one throwing the javelin, has adjusted quickly to the new sport and embraced it almost as much as football. He said he would maybe like to do both in college.
Alabama has a good track program.
"I like it a lot," Kafentzis said. "I like the feeling of getting off a good throw. It's like football, scoring a touchdown."
Twitter: @oramb Freshman phenom
Austin Kafentzis broke the modern-day Class 5A javelin record Saturday with a 190-foot throw at the Davis Invitational.
The all-classes state record is 195 feet, 5 inches, which was thrown by North Sanpete's Austen Jorgensen in 2006.
Kafentzis was the National Freshman of the Year in football last fall after leading Jordan to the 5A semifinals, where the Beetdiggers memorably nearly upset top-ranked Lone Peak.