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HUNGRY FOR MORE: Karns City Senior Luke Cramer Healthy and Ready to Reach His Lofty Goals This Spring in the Javelin

WEST SUNBURY, Pa. (EYT/D9) — A little more than a year ago, Luke Cramer was finally cleared to throw the javelin after suffering a torn ACL during the football season in the fall of 2022.

Cramer wasted little time.

He headed out to the track, picked up a javelin for the first time in months and began throwing.

And throwing. And throwing.

Finally, around midnight, he stopped.

The next day, he rolled out of bed and attended the Butler Track and Field Invitational — one of the biggest and most prestigious events in western Pennsylvania — and won the javelin with a throw of 157 feet, 7 inches.

With just a three-step approach.

“I couldn’t do a run-up and I was very limited in my throws,” said Cramer, now a senior at Karns City. “I went to Butler and wasn’t even (ranked) in the top five, and ended up winning it. The meet was a Friday, and I wasn’t even cleared until Thursday. So I was at the field late working on stuff. I woke up (on Friday) and said, ‘I’m just gonna hope of the best.’”

His late start and the limits on what he could do physically still torpedoed Cramer’s junior season in the javelin.

But it galvanized his determination to go out with a bang as a senior.

Now healthy, Cramer is off to a good start.

In a meet on April 9 against Redbank Valley, Cramer uncorked a career-best throw of 164 feet.

On Monday in a win at Moniteau, Cramer won the javelin again with a throw of 143-6.

The distance wasn’t his focus. His technique was, and Cramer said he got some good work in — finally — on one of the better weather days of a soggy spring so far.

“I was focusing on speeding my run up,” Cramer said. “I slow down a little bit at the line and I’m trying to get my run-up fluid. Last year, I couldn’t do that. So to be back out here in full swing and to be able to run out is a good feeling. The technique is a lot different. I had to basically reteach myself how to run up from two years ago.”

As a sophomore, Cramer had a breakout year in the javelin.

He finished second in District 9 and was ninth at the PIAA Track and Field Championships.

That, too, left him motivated.

Second in the district and ninth in the state are two of the worst places to finish for a competitor like Cramer.

His leap between his freshman and sophomore seasons was also motivated by disappointment.

“My freshman year, I started throwing, and I made districts, but I was one place off placing and that made me a little bit angry,” Cramer said.

Cramer wants a district title and a state medal this season.

The first step toward that, he said, is throwing 176 feet — the state qualifying standard.

That distance will also put him in an excellent position to accomplish all of his goals.

“That’s the number I want to hit. It starts there,” Cramer said. “If I throw farther, great. But that’s what I want to hit.”

To do that, Cramer has given up all of his other events for Karns City. He is just a javelin thrower this season.

Cramer has been a multi-sport athlete at Karns City, excelling at both football and basketball. He will play football in the fall at Edinboro University.

Karns City boys track and field coach Eric Fritch believes Cramer’s lofty goals in the javelin are well within his reach.

“He wants to go to Butler (for the Butler Invite, which is this Friday) and do well there,” Fritch said. “He’s been working toward that. He’s been putting the time in. And obviously he’s been putting some time in the weight room as well, since he’s going to Edinboro to play football. It’s fun to see.”

Cramer has also been focusing on ironing out the finer points of throwing the javelin.

All the things that most don’t realize go into getting the jav to fly.

“It’s not like the other throws,” Cramer said. “It’s a lot of learning. It’s probably the hardest throw in track, and I took that as a challenge. When I first started, people said, ‘Oh, you don’t want to do that. That’s really hard. Nobody is good around here.’ And I said, ‘OK. We’ll see what happens.’

“One false move and you get in a bad position to throw the javelin, it will just crash and burn,” he added. “A lot goes into it.”

Cramer also has a lot of javelins.

Each one has its place depending on the weather and how Cramer is feeling that day. It’s akin to a golfer with a bag of clubs.

“I have a bunch,” Cramer said, smiling. “Today is more of a clear day, so I have one that is meant to go a little higher and soar a little more. I have one for a headwind. One of a tail wind. I alternate. They’re all different. There’s a 50 meter javelin, a 60 meter, a 70. I like to throw 70s because they are a little stiffer and I’m more of a power thrower.”

Cramer’s father, Patrick, threw the javelin at Clarion University, so Luke has a built-in coach at home to help guide him.

Luke Cramer also has throwing coach Joe Schumacher at Karns City to help fine tune his mechanics.

“The main thing is he watches me and tells me what I’m doing,” Cramer said of Schumacher. “I don’t have four sets of eyes, so he can tell me exactly what I’m doing, if I’m slowing down or leaning back or twisting my wrist. That extra set of eyes really helps me change and perfect my technique.”

With the Butler Invite coming — the first of the big invitationals that dot the schedule — it’s go time for Cramer.

“I’ve been working on it since I was a freshman and I’m just hoping for a good mark this year,” Cramer said. “Even though I don’t do it as much as some of the other schools, like in the WPIAL who have summer programs that go to big meets, I like the competition. It feels good to have some District 9 representation.

“You go to some of these big meets and it’s a humbling experience sometimes,” he added. “You think you’re good until you see the best and it only makes you want to throw harder and train harder.”

Cramer also thrives on that pressure.

It fuels him.

But Cramer is also smart about it and has taken a careful approach so far this season.

To him, the javelin is a marathon, not a sprint.

“In javelin, it’s less about throwing hard a bunch of times,” Cramer said. “You have to watch your arm. I’ve made the mistake in the past year of throwing them too much and hurt my arm. When it comes time for districts, you don’t get a good throw. So this year, I’m kind of adding all my knowledge and gearing up for districts and state.

“It takes a perfect season, not a perfect throw,” Cramer said. “You can throw 200 at dual meet and get yourself to districts, but it all comes down to one day. How you throw on those important days. You have to be ready for that one day.”