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MAKING HER MARK: Union Graduate Evie Bliss Already Establishing Herself as One of the Best Javelin Throwers in Nation at Bucknell University

LEWISBURG, Pa. (EYT/D9) — It took Evie Bliss just three throws to make an important realization.

She belonged.

As a freshman coming from the small town of Rimersburg to a NCAA Division I track and field program, Bliss was understandably nervous as she stepped onto the runway to throw the javelin in her first collegiate meet for Bucknell University at the Hurricane Invitational in Coral Gables, Fla., in March.

Those butterflies were calmed when she uncorked a throw of 173 feet, 9 inches on her third attempt. That was good enough to place second in the meet and it also put her second all-time in the javelin at Bucknell.

“That sort of solidified the fact that, yeah, I can do this,” Bliss said. “I’m back.”

Well, Bliss never really left.

She threw 170-2 at the PIAA Track and Field Championships in Shippensburg last May to set a state meet record and win the gold medal. During the summer, she won the USATF U20 championship to qualify for the Pan American U20 Championship in Puerto Rico, where she finished second with what was the a career-best 173.

It was a startling rise in the event for Bliss, who just two years before was just another thrower hitting middling distances. Certainly nothing to indicate what she would become.

Then something clicked late in her junior season. At the state meet, she placed second, sending her on the way to what has become her athletic calling.

“Things have come full circle,” Bliss said. “Last week, I got to compete against (Fort Leboeuf graduate) Audrey Friedman, who now throws for Penn State, who beat me my junior year at states. I’m starting to say, ‘OK,’ and starting to slowly get used to it and accept this is the new normal. But I don’t think it’ll ever fully sink in. I think I will always continue to surprise myself.”

That new normal produced another accomplishment of Bliss.

She recently threw 170-10 to win the Bison Outdoor Classic and set the facility record at West Field. 

For that effort, she was named the Patriot League Rookie of the Week for the second time.

“Evie has done a great job remaining patient,” said Bucknell throwing coach Ryan Protzman, who once coached at Moniteau. “The goal as we hit this home stretch is winning and consistency. The focus since her opener has been Patriot League Championships and the NCAAs.”

Bliss would also like to take a crack at the Bucknell record in the event.

That is held by Maura Fiamoncini, who threw 185-4.

To do that, Bliss has dedicated herself to the weight room. She’s also working closely with Protzman on her run-up and her mechanics to wring as much added distance as she can to her throws.

“I feel stronger, which is definitely a comforting thing,” Bliss said. “I just feel a lot smoother. I feel like I’m able to hit my position better. I feel a lot more explosive.”

Bliss said working with Protzman has been a special experience because of his knowledge of District 9 and the athletes who compete there.

“It’s so nice to have a coach understand where you come from,” Bliss said. “Coach Protz and I get along really well. He’s on top of everything.”

Bliss expected things would be much different when she arrived at Bucknell.

Everything is more intense, especially the training, compared to her days throwing for Union/A-C Valley.

Protzman and Bliss break down the film of her throws to help fine tune everything. Bliss is also getting pushed at every meet by some of the best throwers in the nation.

Bliss is one of them; she’s ranked 16th in the country — fourth in the East — with her 173-9.

“There’s just a lot more attention to detail,” Bliss said. “I can’t muscle through my throws because you have to be as consistent as possible to have a good series. I’m going against better and better throwers. So it’s nice to have coaches and teammates behind me that have become my family. We’re all very close, which is nice to have.”

Bliss relishes the chance to go up against the best.

“There’s always gonna be somebody out there who’s better than you,” Bliss said. “You’re always chasing somebody.”

Bliss hopes one day everyone will chase her.

“Coming in I knew I wanted to have a big enough throw early in the season to qualify me for the NCAAs,” Bliss said. “I don’t have to worry about that now. I didn’t want to have to worry about that because the outdoor season is so short for the javelin because we can’t throw during the indoor season.

“Now the goal is to win the Patriot League,” she added. “There’s a lot of competition, but I think I have a good shot at it.”