Some grow up to work in the family business.
In the Crouser family, they grow up to throw.
Texas sophomore Ryan Crouser is doing his best to keep the family tradition growing, even if he is that rare Crouser to leave the Northwest. He captured the gold medal at the Texas Relays on Friday with a personal best throw of 67-feet, ½ inch on his fourth attempt, outdistancing a field that included former Longhorn teammate Jacob Thormaehlen, who was competing unattached.
It’s the fifth best throw in school history. Only two Horns have ever thrown farther, Oskar Jakobsson and school record holder Brian Robison, now a defensive end with the Minnesota Vikings. Robison threw a 68-3 ¾ at the 2006 NCAA Midwest Regional. During the 2012 outdoor regular season, only one thrower, Penn State’s Joe Kovacs, threw farther (68-5) than Crouser’s latest effort.
It was especially gratifying for Crouser, who has battled assorted injuries and ailments over the last year.
That all appears to be behind him.
“It was big for me,” he said. “I had this day marked on the calendar for a long time. Halfway through indoors, I started to feeling healthy again and I was tempted to come back out but I talked to the coaches and I figured it would be best to get back to 100 percent.”
Crouser knew he had to bring his best because there were several interested onlookers in the stands, namely his dad Mitch, who threw at the University of Idaho and finished fourth in the 1984 U.S. Olympic Trials. Two uncles also threw at Oregon. Dean was a three-time NCAA champ at Oregon and Brian was a two-time NCAA champion in the javelin who competed in two Summer OIympics.
His cousin Sam, a sophomore at the University of Oregon, finished second in the javelin earlier Friday while another cousin, Hayley, the national high school record in the javelin, also came down for the meet, but did not compete because of an injury.
So how did Ryan end up way down in Austin, Texas?
Two words: mechanical engineering. He said he signed with Texas because the University of Oregon does not offer a degree in M.E. He picked Texas over over Arizona State, UCLA, Oregon, and Stanford
Oregon’s loss appears to be Texas’ gain as Crouser started off the outdoor season in style, with the top throw in the country, though it’s pretty early in the game.
“It’s a great start,” he said. “Whenever you come out after almost a year and few months after being injured, your first meet can really decide a lot about how the season can go. It’s been a long time since I competed healthy and it was fun to be out there.”
When you see the list of accomplishments that go with the name Crouser, it’s easy for a youngster to keep a level head because the others have already been where you’re trying to go. Even the kid’s grandfather won a national championship while in the Army.
Crouser couldn’t stop smiling after his win because things haven’t been very easy for him lately. After earning First-Team All-America honors in the discus, Crouser went through a summer that he would just as soon forget. A throat infection led to him getting his tonsils removed and not soon after, he developed strep throat. The 6-foot-7-inch, 255 pounder was unable to eat or drink much and lost 50 pounds in a span of five weeks.
Add a torn ligament in his hand suffered last year and one can quickly figure out why he is so happy these days to be injury free.
The decision to redshirt is paying off early, even if his heart strings were tugged during the indoor season. While teammates traveled, he worked out like a madman, wondering about all the good fun he was missing.
“It’s tough,” he said. “They were flying out on Thursday and coming back on Sunday with stories about the meet. I would sit at home and work on homework.”
He would also break the boredom by driving over to the stadium and working on the shot and javelin. He would even bring the measuring tape. And when his teammates arrived back in town, he would get their distances and compare them with his own.
Now he’s back with them and feeling good about his prospects. While he doesn’t miss the rainy weather in Oregon, he does miss his family, so it was good see some kin come down for the weekend. The family had barbecue at Hoover’s Cooking on Thursday night, swapping old throwing stories as Crousers are known to do.
“It’s been really fun to come hang out with Ryan,” Sam said. “We don’t get to see each other as much since he’s in Texas now. I think he left Oregon because he wanted to get out of the rain.”
Crouser is throwing the javelin Saturday.
“This was really a good start for me,” he said. “I hope it’s something I can build on.”