Olympic-sized dream

Defending Pac-12 champion looks forward to 2020 Olympics


Luke Hollister | The Daily Evergreen

Brock Eager talks about his training and goals to become an Olympic athlete on Jan. 8.

DYLAN GREENE, Evergreen deputy sports editor

253 feet.

That’s the distance Brock Eager has to throw a 16-pound metal ball attached to a steel wire in order to accomplish his dream of making it to the Olympics as a hammer thrower.

“I think it’s pretty realistic,” he said. “I’m hoping for 2020.”

Currently, the redshirt junior hammer thrower and senior weight thrower on the WSU track and field team can throw the hammer 225 feet. By the end of this year Eager is hoping to be throwing the hammer at least 240 feet.

Eager said he has increased his distance in the hammer throw by 34 feet in the last three years and sees no rea

Ezekiel Nelson | The Daily Evergreen
Brock Eager, a weight and hammer thrower on WSU’s track and field team, practices at the Indoor Practice Facility on Jan. 9.

son why he can’t gain 28 feet in the next few years and qualify for the 2020 Olympics.

He has been throwing the hammer for the past 10 years and admitted that he still has yet to perfect his craft.

“I’m really picky with my technique. I’m 10 years in and I’ve still got problems and I’m still working on things,” Eager said. “It might be another five to 10 years before I master it. Hopefully one day I can say I’ve mastered it.”

Eager said he isn’t as strong and big as the other people he competes against, but compensates by focusing on the technique of the hammer throw.

He throws the hammer during the outdoor portion of the track and field season and throws weight during the indoor season, which starts this Friday. A 35-pound weight and shorter technique are the biggest differences between the two events, Eager said.

Due to the heavier weight, Eager said he tries not to throw weight very often during the offseason to avoid straining his back, something he’s had problems with in the past.

The construction management major said he prefers the hammer throw over the weight throw because the heavier weight can affect his hammer technique.  Eager admitted that learning how to throw for both events can be a challenge due to the rigorous technique.

“It’s kind of an awkward movement that your body doesn’t want to allow,” he said, “so it takes time to get comfortable doing it.”

Eager said he only takes off about a month each year and the rest of the time he spends training. He conditions and lifts weights during the season and throughout the offseason. His training focuses on speed, technique, strength, power and balance, he said.

Eager claimed the Pac-12 Championship in hammer throwing last season after redshirting his sophomore season to let a deep class of hammer throwers in the Pac-12 move on, he said. Eager expected to win the championship, but felt relieved when it became a reality.

“There was a lot of pressure on me to come out and do it,” he said, “so I still I had to go out there and compete.”

Wayne Phipps, director of cross country and track and field, said being a Pac-12 champion is a big deal and helps put Eager on the map nationally.

“Being able to be a Pac-12 champion doesn’t guarantee you anything,” Phipps said, “but it definitely puts you on the right path and gives you an indication of what you’re capable of.”

Phipps said Eager studies the sport relentlessly, which makes him one of the top athletes on the WSU team.

“His work ethic and dedication towards throwing is what I would attribute to a lot of his success,” he said.

Eager hopes to repeat as Pac-12 champion this season and finish in the top five at the NCAA Championships. Phipps has even higher expectations for Eager.

“The goal is for [Eager] to be an NCAA champion by the time he leaves WSU,”

Eager said his focus this season will be on doing the best he can individually and for the team, but his Olympic dream will always be at the back of his mind.

He said he gets an adrenaline rush when he gets a good throw in. He even occasionally drinks a Red Bull or some other caffeine-filled drink to get the blood flowing.

“You’re throwing 35 pounds around,” he said. “You’ve got to be a little amped up or stupid.”