Rhaven Dean made a mistake last season.
After coming into Class 3A state track and field meet with the top throw in the javelin, Dean slipped up at Mount Tahoma Stadium. She forgot who she was.
“To this day I don’t know what happened at state. I don’t know ... I still can’t figure out what happened,” she said.
Dean entered state with a school-record-throw of 135 feet, 10.71 inches, but after falling apart over the weekend meet, Dean finished in eighth place with a distance of 115 feet, 6 inches.
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“I think I tried to meet (what) other people expected of me instead of focusing on myself,” she explained. “I didn’t do what I wanted to do at state.”
Dean’s Sumner teammate, Alexandra Espinda, took third (129 feet, 1 inch) behind Kelso’s top finishers at state, winner Kirstin Mury (136 feet, 2 inches) and runner-up Mariah Horton (131 feet, 9 inches).
If Dean threw like she had been all season as a sophomore, then she would have been right in the thick of it at state.
Many athletes falter at the biggest stage of the sport year, and Dean was no different. She looked sapped of the energy she’d built up heading into the meet. Throws sailed right and looked weak coming out of her hand.
She was 20 feet under her normal self.
“I tried to catch the Kelso girls — I was throwing to what they were instead of being myself,” Dean said. “Now I try to focus on my own personal records, not worrying about what others are doing.”
In the end, Dean had beaten herself.
Now a junior, Dean has started figuring it out. Already creating a new personal best at 139 feet, 6 inches on April 7, set in a meet with Bonney Lake, Dean has become stronger both physically and mentally since that state slip.
Her distance ranks second in 3A behind Lynnwood junior Mikayla Pivec (141 feet, 9 inches). Dean also ranks fourth in the shot put (38 feet, 10 inches) and ninth in the discus (115 feet), making the Spartan field standout more of a complete thrower.
“I think this year people are seeing me more of a thrower than last year,” Dean said.
Now the pressure is on for Dean, whose been aiming at the 140-foot plateau. With the SPSL sub-district meet this weekend and West Central District III meet the next, she’ll have a few more chances to take that next step.
“I just want to reach 140 (feet) in the javelin, and I think I can reach 120 (feet) in the discus. Those are my main goals right now,” Dean closed. “I’m just going focus on myself and my own personal marks.”