By Jeremy McDonald
SILVERTON, Ore.— It was a weird situation when Silverton’s Riley Traeger was competing at the USATF National tournament last summer at Sacramento, California.
Yes, following her second throw at the javelin she led in the event, but the Foxes Senior was frustrated entering her final throw at the competition during that meet.
“In the two meets leading up to nationals, I didn’t throw amazing, so I really wanted to leave with a great mark at this meet. On my very last throw I remember thinking “just put one out there as far as you can, it doesn’t matter, you already won,” said Traeger.
The goal for her in the National meet was 140-feet. Pretty within reach considering her PR was 154-feet-one-inch that she set at the Twilight Relay Meet earlier in the year at Jesuit as a Junior, the throw also set the school record at Silverton.
But as she finished her time down in the Golden State that day, finishing with a toss of 140-feet-three-inches, a break-through moment happened for Traeger coming out of the meet.
“I had a great conversation with my dad after the meet, taking about what a great breakthrough I had and how now when I’m struggling to find rhythm in a meet, I can look back at what I did at nationals & find comfort in the fact that my best throw could quite possibly be my last one,” said Traeger.
“Every single meet before that one, my best throws had either been my first or second throw. My next four throws would always be my shortest and weakest throws. But at the national meet, my best throw ended up being my very last throw, which was a huge breakthrough for me! After that meet, I knew that I had no excuse to relax after my first couple throws, because now I knew that I could still crank out an awesome throw at the end of my meet.”
The meet came on the heels of Traeger winning State her Junior year in the javelin. That was the year where she threw 138-feet-nine-inches to bring home the 5A State Title, two-feet-three-inches ahead of La Salle Prep’s Ashley Smith, coming off the heels of a sophomore year where Traeger had finished seventh in the event.
“I never expected to bring home a medal, and getting 7th place was a dream! That meet really motivated me to get better and improve so that the next time I made it to state, I could bring home the gold,” said Traeger. “Getting first place at state last year was so rewarding to me! My hard work had payed off and I had done enough to get attention from D1 colleges, which was CRAZY!!”
Entering her Senior year, the momentum was there. She was looking to go deep in the basketball playoffs with Silverton, who were off to another collision course entering Gill this past March following their opening win over Ridgeview before looking towards the throwing lane a few weeks later.
That’s when the first-part of the news came down the pipe the day the Foxes were suppose to play Crater in the 5A State Semi-Finals: State Basketball Tournament was canceled. A month later, Spring sports were canceled.
It was a shock to Traeger knowing the work it took to get to even Oregon State with her basketball team, let lone the Track season ahead in front of her…but the Traeger understood why as the month turned into May.
“I was kind of numb at that point, but I also expected it to be canceled due to the circumstances. Even though I was angry with everything that had happened, I used that anger to push myself physically,” said Traeger. “I’ve been working out and having my own javelin practices to make sure that I can stay on top on the game and to enter college in as best shape that I can.”
Ahead when the Silverton Senior will take to the field of competition, it will be the renovated Hayward Field at the University of Oregon, where Traeger had competed as a sophomore two years ago. Seeing the updates they are doing to the facilities has the Silverton Senior excited to see what she will be able to do knowing the support she has back home she’s hopes to make proud at the end of the day.
“I am SO excited to compete at Hayward!!,” said Traeger through an email. “Seeing pictures of the stadium going up on social media makes me so antsy to be able to compete there. I just really hope that I can make my family, friends, school and community proud. And I think that if I was to be the most successful at any college, U of O would be it. I’m so thankful for this opportunity!”