Minnitti qualifies for Pan-American Games

Rob Minnitti has a succinct theory about second place.

“Second place sucks,” Minnitti said in an interview nearly a month ago.

Two weeks later, the 1998 South Kitsap High School graduate suffered the fate he dreaded, placing second in the javelin at the NCAA Championships in Stanford, Calif.

But then, second place never felt finer two weeks later.

Re-visiting Stanford Stadium for the second time in two weeks, Minnitti hurled a personal-best throw of 77.21 meters (253-4 feet) at the USA Track and Field National Championships to finish second and qualify for the Pan-American Games in the Dominican Republic this August.

“Second place was a big win for me,” Minnitti said. “It not only got me into the prize money but it opened a whole bunch of doors for me.”

But Minnitti did do it at the expense of his family and friends.

With his parents, girlfriend, and four fraternity brothers in the stands, Minnitti said he probably frazzled their nerves during the competition.

In the preliminary round, Minnitti barley qualified for finals, placing ninth out of nine spots. After two sub-par throws and two decent throws, Minnitti saved his best effort for last, landing his personal-best toss on the final throw.

“I was so thankful I got into the finals,” Minnitti said. “After doing that, wanted to get in the top five. Even without the last throw I would have been fourth.”

Minnitti said there’s a huge difference between placing second and fourth, however.

“First of all second place qualified me for the Pan American Games,” he said. “Fourth place wouldn’t have gotten me there.”

Next week Minnitti will leave for Finland to train among some of the world’s best throwers, coaches, and equipment.

He also sees Finland — a country in the forefront of throwing events — as an opportunity to compete in some European meets and possibly a chance to get sponsored.

“Right now, I don’t have any money,” Minnitti said. “I need to raise some money. But being the second-ranked thrower in the country should help me out.”

A week earlier, it didn’t seem all these doors would be open for him.

At the NCAA Championships, Minnitti led the javelin event with a throw of 75.07 meters heading into the fifth of six rounds.

But the University of Pennsylvania’s Brian Chaput bested Minnitti with a throw of 78.69 meters to claim the national championship.

“I was pretty bummed after that,” he said. “I felt pretty good at 75 (meters) but then (Chaput) threw a lifetime personal best throw of 78. It was a personal record for him by three meters.”

Minnitti said he didn‚t have much time to dwell on the lack of a collegiate championship.

“I came to Seattle and had two training sessions, then went back down and trained three more times,” he said. “That’s not like me to throw five times in a week and a half. I usually throw twice a week.”

The sessions obviously helped, as did the crowd. “The shotput was going on the same time as the javelin,” he said. “Because the three best throwers in the world were there it drew a big crowd. But then they were paying attention to us, as well.”

Minnitti said his training has been non-stop since April. But with 10 days of rest and relaxation, Minnitti said it would be just enough time away from the sport before he is re-energized and ready to train in Finland.

“I’m so excited for this opportunity,” he said. “I’m just under three meters short of 80y.”

Minnitti said he’s capable of hitting the 80-meter mark.

“It’s hot down there, and I throw well in warm weather,” he said. “If I (set a personal record) by just four meters, I will be the top of everything. I’m pretty confident I can be there.”

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