MONMOUTH — After an incorrect marking of the championship javelin throw at the Class 2A State Championship Track and Field meet in Monmouth on May 19, the top two placers are now switching medals.
Upon realizing that his first-place throw was actually more than 15 feet over-measured, Glendale senior David Juneau decided to swap out his gold for silver, the second-place prize that originally went to Enterprise’s Erich Roepke.
Roepke handed his over to Enterprise High after his track coaches corresponded with Glendale coach Gary Minnick about the switch. The silver medal was mailed to Juneau at the end of last week with Juneau’s gold set to come to Roepke this weekend.
Then he’d check the scoreboard.
“From where I was standing on the javelin pit, you couldn’t tell how far those throws were going,” said Roepke, a senior with Enterprise who won the javelin event at the 2011 state meet. “I looked up at the board, saw a number and started concentrating on what I needed to do.”
The number Roepke saw during the first round of throws — a 175 foot, 4 inch mark by Juneau — set the new pace. Five athletes later, Roepke’s javelin landed farther than Juneau’s, but his 168-9 throw — the best of the day so far — was called only good for second.
In the stands of Western Oregon University’s McArthur Field that day, Enterprise track coach Dan Moody could tell right away that the measurements were far off. Juneau’s javelin stuck in the grass shy of the 160-foot line, an unmarked arc on the field.
The live video feed of the meet hosted by the Oregon School Activities Association at www.osaa.tv showed Roepke’s throws — his best a 174-4 toss later in the day — exceed that of any other competitor. According to Brad Garrett, OSAA assistant executive director, though the evidence to overturn the championship is there, the video is not official.
Glendale’s Juneau will remain the official state champion for 2012.
“The whole notion of what is right and wrong in these situations gets taken out of context,” Garrett wrote in an email to the Enterprise coaching staff on May 21. “...While this particular case could have been solved if we had gone to video after the fact, it remains that we are convinced it would create more problems than it will solve.”
Roepke said he doesn’t mind being cemented in the OSAA history books as a second-place finisher. But he’s glad that it was someone like Juneau who was placed ahead of him, a down-to-earth type person who looks to do the right and honorable thing.
“I was really thankful,” Roepke said over the phone from Salt Lake City International Airport during a layover while he and classmates traveled to Washington, D.C., with an entrepreneurship class. “I think he handled it in a good way, we both did really. I’m really appreciative of his character.
“I’m in the process of writing him a letter to thank him. I think I would have been a little more apprehensive to approach him on the day of the meet.”
Roepke will attend Lewis & Clark College in Portland this fall on scholarship. He will play football and throw the javelin for the school’s track and field team.
Contact AJ Mazzolini at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0839.