After Fall Surgery, Ty Hampton Regaining Form With Javelin
Ty Hampton had every right to feel uneasy when he stepped back onto the javelin runway at Coos Bay’s Marshfield High.
The senior from cross-town North Bend, one year after suffering an injury to his throwing elbow, made a triumphant return April 13 when he launched the nation’s No. 1 mark in the javelin – 216 feet, 10 inches (66.09m) – at the Prefontaine Rotary Meet.
“It was pretty mental. It was nerve-wracking,” Hampton said. “This was the same spot where I almost ruined it. The same runway. That was kind of hard for me.”
Hampton pressed through it and launched all six of his attempts past 200 feet. His best mark took over the national lead.
Subsequently, Sam Hankins of Manhattan KS claimed the national lead May 4 with a 220-2 effort (67.10m) at the Howard Wood Dakota Relays.
Hampton returned to US#1 last weekend when he threw 221-4 (67.46m) at the Midwestern League district meet.
He’ll compete this weekend at the OSAA Class 6A/5A championship meet at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham looking to throw even farther.
It’s been a rough year for Hampton, who earned acclaim as one of the country’s best young throwers when he won his first state title as a sophomore with a throw of 208-9 (63.62m).
He was invited to join the National Scholastic Athletic Foundation’s Project Javelin Gold, which put Hampton in touch with some of the top mentors in the country, as well as trips and and clinics to support his training.
But his junior season was mostly lost when he threw at Marshfield last year and heard a ‘pop’ in his elbow. Then his entire arm went numb.
“I had probably the best week of practice ever,” Hampton said. “I was throwing 220s. Then the first throw there was pain. I felt a pop.”
What followed was a long journey for a medical answer to the problem. Fears that he had ruptured a tendon, and might require Tommy John surgery, persisted.
But Hampton felt it was something else. The pain only occurred when he made the over-hand javelin motion. He could lift weights. He went on with his track season and won a state title in the discus.
By last August, frustrated, he sought out a second opinion and found a doctor who confirmed that he had dislocated the ulnar nerve in his elbow.
In October, he underwent surgery to re-route the nerve and prevent it from interfering with his throwing motion.
Since the operation and recovery, Hampton has had a little more than three months of training.
“My elbow didn’t feel good until March,” he said.
However, the return to Marshfield, and a nation-leading throw confirmed his return to elite throwing.
At 6-foot-6, Hampton has the long levers and speed that project to a promising future in the sport. In April he accepted a scholarship offer from the University of Oregon.
After the state meet, Hampton plans to travel to Greensboro, N.C. for New Balance Nationals Outdoor to try and win the national high school title.
The national meet is organized by the NSAF, which has been monitoring Hampton’s progress.
“We’re really impressed with how Ty persevered and continued to train when he couldn’t throw,” NSAF spokesman Steve Underwood said. “He was training with us in Germany last summer and then in Phoenix and Baton Rouge at clinics during the fall and winter — always doing whatever he was physically able to get better and learning from our coaches. Now it’s really paying off.”
Hampton believes there are big throws yet to come. A year away from throwing the javelin makes him feel more like a junior than a senior as a thrower, he said.
“I feel like 200 (feet) is a new benchmark,” he said. “Maybe I can get 220 easy. I haven’t thrown all-out yet.”
Eventually, if he can add some quality training and stay healthy, Hampton will cut loose.
“I’m going for a pretty big mark this year,” he said.