Cony’s Julia Reny competes in the javelin at the Class B track and field state championships Saturday in Bath. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

BATH — All it takes is one.

Julia Reny knows this, and she knows one is all she has left. A Cony High School senior, Reny is about to make the final throw in the Class B state track and field championship girls javelin competition. Remy plants her javelin into the ground at her feet with authority, like a mountain climber planting a flag on a peak. She takes a step back, grips the javelin, and bends forward to stretch her back.

Reny is looking for the mental space in the place every athlete searches for, The Zone. When she is there mentally, Reny knows her body will follow.

“I tried to stay calm and collected and gather myself so I didn’t rush my last throw,” Reny said.

A few minutes ago, Riley Reitchel, an Erskine Academy junior, made the javelin throw of her young life. Reitchel’s throw of 115 feet, 9 inches is the best of the meet, knocking the 112-8 throw Reny made on her first try out of the lead. Reitchel’s throw also matches Reny’s personal best. Reny entered the competition seeded second, just behind Lawrence’s Alyssa Bourque and ahead of Reitchel. Bourque is done, having a best throw of 109-6, and will finish in third place.

Reny is not the biggest competitor in the field, not by a longshot. Reny is around 5-foot-4, but her form is throwing the javelin may be the best in the field. During her run-up, Reny brings her right arm back behind her body so it’s almost perfectly horizontal with the ground. Some throwers seem to slow down as they approach, as if a fear of fouling activates mental brakes. Reny, and her Cony teammates, use a crow hop. It looks like an outfielder loading up to make a strong throw to cut down a runner at third base.

“Coach Lippert (assistant coach BL Lippert) introduced that to me my freshman year, and it got me to throw 10 more feet. It’s something that’s really increased my distance over time,” Reny says. “It’s a lot of technique for sure. I’m definitely not one of the biggest people out there. I really have to use my entire body. You have to have a nice run-up, a good jump at the end. Everyone has their own technique and what works for them, and I think I have figured mine out pretty decently over these past few years… The farther your arm’s back, the more momentum you have. I’ve learned to incorporate that into my run-up.”

Cony’s Julia Reny, right, stretches with the shade from her umbrella before competing in the javelin at the Class B track and field championships Saturday in Bath. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

That technique is what helped Reny throw 112-8 on her first try, and it’s what she’s counting on as she prepares to try to beat Reitchel’s throw and claim the state championship. That technique is what drew Reny to throwing the javelin in the first place, as a Cony freshman.

“I like that it is so much technique. I’m someone, my family calls me a ball girl. I like something that gets me moving, and having to use more than just your body. You have to use your mind and technique and everything,” Reny says.

Last week, Reny won the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference with a throw of 110-5. In her last state meet — anyone’s last state meet — in 2019, Reny placed fifth with a throw of 98-2. Reny’s javelin career has been a steady climb of improvement leading to this day, this moment, this throw. All it takes is one.

Reny’s right hip is wrapped and taped tightly. If the injury, a partially torn hip labrum, bothers her, Reny doesn’t let on. The injury might need to be addressed before she enrolls at Thomas College in the fall, where Reny plans to play field hockey and continue track and field.

“I did it after coming out a different injury the end of my junior year. I’ve just been kind of going with it. Some days are worse than others. I’m used to it,” Reny says.

Reitchel’s 115-9 tumbles through Reny’s thoughts as she pulls her javelin from the earth and grips it in her right hand. She is ready. She runs, arm back, 90-degree angle from her body, steady as she runs. The crow hop that gives her throw that little extra oomph, and the slingshot of an arm firing the javelin into the air. It rises, not wobbly at all in flight.

Many throws during the day land and skitter across the grass. Reny’s spears the ground like it was meant to, like it’s rushing home. Measurements at state meets are taken via laser pointer, and the judges line up the pointer’s target where Reny’s javelin landed. Reitchel is watching. Reny and Lippert are watching. Everyone knows this is close.

The judge announces Reny’s throw, 115-11. Two inches. Reny’s won the Class B state title by 2 inches.

Hold your thumb and forefinger casually apart. That space between them, that’s approximately how much farther Reny’s throw was than Reitchel’s.

All it took was one. Reny knew that, and it’s all over her face as she smiles and turns to hug Lippert and her twin sister Anna.

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