May 3, 2013
By Jocelyn Perry
SEATTLE - In four years at Washington, Jimmy Brookman and Joe Zimmerman have posted top-10 marks, made numerous NCAA appearances and are currently both ranked in the top-25 in the nation. With their season and college careers coming to an end, the two seniors are looking for a strong post-season run.
Brookman and Zimmerman couldn't have had more different journeys to Washington.
Zimmerman committed to UW because of one reason: Kyle Nielsen. Nielsen etched his name onto the top of the Husky record books, throwing a 253-5 in 2011. Even though Zimmerman had only met then-sophomore Nielsen on recruiting visits, Zimmerman wanted to knock him off.
Joe Zimmerman looks like he popped out of a children's book of folk tales. The native of Spokane and graduate of Lewis and Clark High School sports a beard which puts a hockey player's November facial hair to shame. And his freshman year marks were almost the stuff of legend. Zimmerman threw 244-feet, 10-inches in 2010, which is the farthest throw by a Husky freshman and third on UW's all-time list.
"It's crazy to think that it's almost over ... We were just talking about how our first conference championships seemed so long ago. Four years flew by."
The 244-10 from his freshman year is still his personal best. That year, Zimmerman finished fourth at NCAAs, one spot behind Nielsen, and won USA Junior Nationals. "I thought I was going to break every record as a freshman after that throw," said Zimmerman. "I was on top of the world."
His sophomore and junior years were plagued with nagging injuries. He stood up and pointed out every ailment he's had throughout his career, from ankles to hip flexors to shoulders.
"It's kind of like every javelin thrower goes through a mini car wreck," Brookman chimed in. Zimmerman laughed.
Even despite the constant bumps and bruises, Zimmerman has continued to throw very well for the Dawgs. He was third at Pac-10s in 2011, between Nielsen in second and Brookman in fourth, and went on to place 20th at NCAAs. Last year, Zimmerman moved up to second at the Pac-12 Championships, but had his only real subpar meet at Regionals, and missed nationals for the first time. This year, Zimmerman feels healthy and about to throw very far. And with the year quickly coming to an end, Zimmerman has one definite goal left: beat Kyle Nielsen.
"I still hold the Ken Shannon Invitational record," said Zimmerman. "Kyle is specifically coming back (this Saturday) to beat my record. Yeah, that's not going to happen."
Brookman had a different path to UW. He was a multi-sport athlete at Redmond High School, playing football, wrestling and track. He wasn't positive he wanted to compete in javelin at the collegiate level, but decided to walk-on his freshman year. Brookman walked into the coaches offices before the season began, and once practice started a few months later they forgot who he was.
"I ended up quitting," said Brookman. "I didn't think I wanted to do it, but after thinking a while I decided to come back and that year I made NCAA prelims."
Brookman has consistently thrown farther and set a PR each season. His sophomore year ended with an elbow injury, which forced him to have Tommy John's surgery before his junior year. Brookman came back from surgery much earlier than anticipated, and went on to throw a 233-11 PR at NCAA Prelims to earn his first trip to the final NCAA site, where he finished 15th and earned Second Team All-America honors. Not bad for just a four-meet season.
"My goal is to get on the Pac-12 podium this year," said Brookman. "My sophomore year I was third (at conference finals), and the last thrower beat me on his last throw and I ended up fourth."
The two seniors are about to graduate and hand down their leadership to the underclassmen.
"It's crazy to think that it's almost over," thought Brookman. "We were just talking about how our first conference championships seemed so long ago. Four years flew by."
Washington has a legacy of successful javelin throwers as of late. "We're known as a great javelin school," said Brookman. "Now with coach Crater and his background with rotational throws, we will be a great throwing school."
"All of us javelin throwers have a very good shot at scoring at conference championships," said Zimmerman. "For a school, that's unheard of." Last year, four Huskies scored at conference, with Zimmerman second, Brookman fifth, and then-freshmen Quinn Hale and Curtis Clauson placing fourth and seventh, respectively. Hale currently ranks 36th in the nation, while Clauson is redshirting after elbow surgery. Adding to the Husky javelin lineage this year is freshman Carson Fuller, another Spokane product throwing over 200-feet regularly who could crack the top-eight at Pac-12s himself.
The javelin throwers all live together, practice together and watch film together. Brookman and Zimmerman have no doubt the javelin team will still be close-knit after they leave, but they are nervous one of their traditions will be lost.
"We all grow out our beards for the season," said Brookman, while sporting a rugged beard. "The underclassmen, collectively they might be able to grow a mustache! Though Quinn (Hale) does have some nice mutton chops!"
After the season, they will separate once again. Brookman has an internship lined up at downtown Seattle accounting firm. The dean's list scholar will complete his accounting degree from the Foster School of Business this spring.
Zimmerman, also a dean's list scholar, has other plans. "I told myself this past fall quarter if I set a PR, I would continue to throw after I graduate," said Zimmerman. "My PR is a 244, and I've thrown a 238 this season. I feel healthy and I feel like I'm about to throw a lot farther."