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The 'little kid with the big arm,' Adam Burggraf shows the big boys how it's done
Posted: May 29th, 2014 @ 4:47pm
By CLAUDE SCILLEY
At first glance, you might wonder why that little guy is over there, standing amid the big boys preparing to throw the javelin or discus. Shouldn't he be over with the other officials, getting ready to mark the spots or hold the tape measure?
If you stick around long enough to watch Adam Burggraf throw, you won't wonder anymore.
The Grade 9 student from Bayridge is not only undefeated this high school track season in both events, he's been winning convincingly. At the Hungerford Invitational preseason meet in Brockville, he won the javelin by nine metres over the rest of the field. At the Kingston Area championship, he won by 10 metres.
In discus, his margins of victory were six metres and three metres, respectively. In winning the competition at the eastern Ontario meet last week, he launched a throw of 41.78 metres, a personal best by more than four metres.
It's not what you'd expect of a young man who doesn't exactly fit the stereotype of the big, beefy thrower.
"I've gotten that a lot," Burggraf said, "(but) so much of it is technique. Size doesn't really matter."
Being surrounded by big boys during a competition can be a little intimidating, he confessed, "especially when people do warm-ups, and they don't really have a full run-up; they just use strength and throw pretty far.
"That's intimidating," he continued, "but you don't have to wrestle them, you just have to throw further."
In his hometown of Whitby, Burggraf used to be a baseball pitcher, so he comes to the event with a certain amount of arm strength. In elementary school, there were plastic javelins for kids to throw, "and I did really well at that."
That led him in Grade 7 to discover a youth track and field program, where he could try his hand at throwing the real thing. From the start, he says, "I enjoyed it a lot."
Burggraf no longer plays baseball. "I needed the time for javelin," he said. "It's such a big part of my life."
When he arrived in Kingston last summer, Burggraf contacted Tim Fawcett and Melody Torcolacci, two coaches with expertise in the throwing disciplines. From the days of taking his daughter, Emily, to youth track meets in Toronto, Fawcett remembered Burggraf because, well, "he was this little kid with the big arm."
"When I saw him throw, it was like, 'Whoa! That little kid? Look at it go!' That was when he was 11. He's 14 now. I think he's going to be tall. He's got size 12 feet on this little 5-foot-4 frame and I don't think he weighs 110 pounds but he's got that whip. He's got so much torque that he generates in his core in both javelin and discus. He just snaps around. You don't expect it because he's just this little gangly kid but he gets in the circle and it just pounds.
"It really is something to watch him throw the javelin. It's getting that way in discus now, too. He's just killing it."
Burggraf's EOSSAA performances would have put him solidly in the final in both events at last year's provincial championship meet; in 2012 his 41.78 discus throw would have won him the OFSAA bronze medal.
It's a remarkable achievement, considering discus is an event Burggraf hasn't been doing that long, one whose technical elements he refined while throwing into the canvas gym divider at Ecole Cathedrale during indoor workouts in the winter.
"Last time I threw (before that) I wasn't even throwing 30 (metres), then I was throwing 32 and when I threw 37, that was a huge accomplishment," Burggraf said. "Then my last meet I was throwing over 40, which was just ridiculous to think how far I've come in that."
It was a significant milestone, he said, to surpass 40 metres in both events on the same day.
"I've been throwing since Grade 7 and it was always, 'I hope one day I'll be able to throw over 40,' and then finally this year, from getting coached by Tim and Melody, I was able to get over that."
Burggraf said he'd like to approach 50 metres in javelin before the season is done. "That would be the biggest accomplishment in any sport so far. That would just be insane if I could throw 50 or around there."
With the disc, he says 45 metres would be nice.
"They're more stretched goals, I guess," he said, "Maybe I'll get some luck and do that."
It may not be a matter of luck, Fawcett said.
"He's a natural. He's gone progressively further each time he's thrown.
"He took to (the disc) quickly, and the fact that all of the other programs didn't get out on the fields until late this year because of the late winter, our indoor work, in discus, especially, puts him ahead of all the other midgets."
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