Press Luncheon: Ashton Eaton has close call with javelin

Ashton Eaton

Ashton Eaton, pictured here throwing at Westmont in 2012, will be competing at the Sam Adams Multi Events on April 6.

World champion decathlete Ashton Eaton recently had a close call with a javelin while training on Westmont’s campus, where the recent Gold Medal winner will be participating in the Sam Adams Combined Events Invitational meet on April 6.

It’s an event Warriors track & field coach Russell Smelley encouraged the community to come see at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon.

Eaton won the Gold Medal in the decathlon in London in 2012. The just-turned-25-year-old hopes to repeat again at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero in 2016.

Smelley tried to explain the measure of Eaton’s athletic excellence.

“How great an athlete is he? His coach, who worked with Sam Adams, says ‘if he trained for it, he could break the world record in the 110 meter hurdles. If he trained for it, he could break the world record in the pole vault. If he trained for it, he could break the world record in the long jump.”

Just a few days ago, Smelley watched as Eaton dodged a stray javelin throw that Smelley said would have speared most people.

Male Athlete of the Week Jonah Seif

Male Athlete of the Week Jonah Seif

“I can see Ashton is about to have a javelin enter his body just below his shoulder blade,” Smelley said.

Smelley said Eaton made a “Matrix-type move” in order to get out of the way, but still received a small nick on his upper lip despite his amazing agility.

Smelley said it was a strong reminder to always reinforce the safety standards on the track.

“To remind athletes that the javelin doesn’t care who won the gold medal,” Smelley said.

Many of the local high schools will be competing at Westmont’s track this Saturday. Track & Field student-athletes at the luncheon included San Marcos’ Joe Prince, Jesus Munoz, Caroline Vance, Kaitlyn Kuehn, Carpinteria’s Xavier De Alba, Matt Kllewer, Kyle Millhollin, and UCSB’s Mitchell Haag and Maxwell Villabla.

The four Royals are part of the largest turnout for track that San Marcos coach Marilyn Hantgin has ever experienced with 243 kids. Hantgin, who is carrying a surrogate baby for her sister this spring, happened to give birth 14 years ago today.

There were just as many softball players, representing Dos Pueblos, San Marcos, Carpinteria and Bishop Diego. Dos Pueblos brought three players that keyed a tournament championship in Simi Valley on Saturday. The Chargers were represented by Athlete of the Week Veronika Gulvin, tournament defensive MVP Haley Peterson and tournament offensive MVP Chloe Madill.

Gulvin was voted Athlete of the Week after pitching an 18-strikeout no-hitter in the championship game.

Female Athlete of the Week Veronika Gulvin

Female Athlete of the Week Veronika Gulvin

San Marcos head coach Jeff Swann is counting on juniors Stephanie Swann and Vicki Villegas to be important pieces of this year’s team, which is off to a rocky start because of injuries.

For Carpinteria and Bishop Diego, pitchers Catalina Maldonado and Madison Ballard-Rozok were introduced as team leaders who will see a bulk of the time in the pitcher’s circle this season for their respective teams. The Warriors have moved up to the Tri-Valley League after a CIF semifinal season last year out of the Frontier League.

Bishop Diego’s Ali Everson was there on Monday, as was Carpinteria’s Elena Schneider and Erin Saito.

Also there from Bishop Diego were Troy Skinner, Chandler Swift, Spencer Ekola and Tyler Greenwald.

From Carpinteria, tennis players Ben Murray and David Harms were selected to attend.

Dos Pueblos’ tennis coach Liz Frech brought her two junior captains Mason Casady and Ankush Khemani.

“They are energetic young men who bring the team together,” Frech said. “From pep talks, workouts, fundraisers, and other team activities.”

The male Athlete of the Week was Jonah Seif, UCSB’s starting freshman setter. Seif and the Gauchos won two important MPSF matches over the weekend, including a 3-set sweep of Stanford on Friday in which Seif recorded 41 assists.

Gerry Raphielli was presented as the Special Olympics Athlete of the Month.

Award sponsor Aaron Brown, of Edward Jones Financial, remembered fondly the first time he met Gerry, who was wearing a jersey that had the name “G-Money” on it.

“I go over to Gerry and say, ‘Hey Gerry, what’s G-Money all about?’,” Brown recalled. “And he goes, ‘well, G is the initial of my first name and money is who I am, so G-Money.’ I figured this was going to be a good little season. It’s been seven years since then.”

Raphielli, at 56 years old, has been competing for Special Olympics since he was 18 and is now a player-coach for the basketball team. Raphielli stands 6’8″ tall and is known for his shot-blocking ability.

The Athletic Round Table will host its weekly press luncheon next week at Harry’s Plaza Cafe as well as its annual Prelude to March Madness event that evening at the Cabrillo Arts Pavilion.


Stephanie Swann, San Marcos softball
Vicki Villegas, San Marcos softball
Chris Newton, San Marcos Volleyball
Christian Widmer, San Marcos Volleyball
Mason Casady, Dos Pueblos Tennis
Ankush Khemani, Dos Pueblos Tennis
Ben Murray, Carpinteria Tennis
David Harms, Carpinteria Tennis
Elena Schneider, Carpinteria Softball
Catalina Maldonado, Carpinteria Softball
Erin Saito, Carpinteria Softball
Xavier De Alba, Carpinteria Track
Matt Kllewer, Carpinteria Track
Kyle Millhollin, Carpinteria Track
Chloe Madill, Dos Pueblos Softball
Haley Peterson, Dos Pueblos Softball
Veronika Gulvin, Dos Pueblos Softball
Joe Prince, San Marcos Track
Jesus Munoz, San Marcos Track
Caroline Vance, San Marcos Track
Kaitlyn Kuehn, San Marcos Track
Madison Ballard-Rozok, Bishop Diego Softball
Ali Everson, Bishop Diego Softball
Troy Skinner, Bishop Diego Volleyball
Chandler Swift, Bishop Diego volleyball
Spencer Ekola, Bishop Diego Tennis
Tyler Greenwald, Bishop Diego Tennis
Mitchell Haag, UCSB Track
Maxwell Villalba, UCSB Track