Tualatin senior Ethan Grimm has surpassed 190 feet in six of his nine meets this season. (Photo by Michael Williams)
Tualatin senior Ethan Grimm has surpassed 190 feet in six of his nine meets this season. (Photo by Michael Williams)

It took some twists of fate for Tualatin senior Ethan Grimm to find his niche.

First, an elbow injury during his sophomore fall baseball season led to him turning out for track and field the following spring.

“My plan was just to stay in shape so I could return to baseball,” he said. “I ended up recovering, but I couldn't go back to baseball because they already had tryouts.”

Then, a hamstring injury turned his focus away from the jumps and toward the javelin.

“I wasn't expecting to stick with it,” he said.

It turned out that Grimm, a pitcher in baseball, had a knack for the javelin. Now a senior, Grimm is the school record-holder and a two-time state placer. He owns the best mark in the state this season, throwing 196 feet, 8 inches.

As he prepares for a college career at Montana, the 6-foot, 190-pound Grimm has become a model of consistency. He has surpassed 190-0 in six of his nine meets this season, hinting that he is primed to take the next step sometime soon.

“I really like where I'm ranked, but I'm waiting for a bigger throw to happen,” he said. “I've been real consistent, but I know there's more in me that I haven't been able to find yet. That's what I'm hoping to figure out in this last week of practice before districts and state.”

In his two biggest meets this season, Grimm finished third in the Oregon Relays and second in the Nike/Jesuit Twilight Relays, throwing 187-5 ¼ and 193-7, respectively. The 200-foot barrier looms large for him.

“That's where my eyes have been set pretty much the whole season,” he said.

As a sophomore, Grimm was biding his time in the javelin, waiting for his hamstring to heal, when he made a stunning breakthrough at the end of the season. He won the Three Rivers League district meet with a throw of 155-6, improving his PR by more than 40 feet, and he hit 164-1 to take eighth in the 6A championships.

“Three weeks before that, he wasn't even in contention,” Tualatin coach Hashim Hall said. “It actually surprised all of us. Like, 'Oh my gosh, what's happening?'”

Grimm said everything clicked once his hamstring healed and he was able to use his legs more.

“I started throwing really far,” he said. “In the first practice where I really came back, I started throwing right up there with the top varsity throwers. I was kind of shocked how much farther it was once I was able to use my full body.”

Grimm set the school record in the first meet of his junior season by throwing 184-8, but on the same throw, he suffered a torn adductor and spent most of the season doing physical therapy. He came back to repeat as district champion (177-2) and finish third at the 6A meet (174-11 ½).

“I wasn't even 100 percent when I came back toward the end,” he said.

Grimm competed in six meets with the Super Thrower Track Club last June, winning the emerging elite division at Nike Outdoor Nationals (171-4 ¼) and recording a new PR of 186-7 ¾ to win a Junior Olympic regional meet. He placed fifth at Junior Olympic Nationals (181-3 ¼).

“I was really grateful to be able to compete during the summer,” he said.

Grimm was able to train throughout the offseason.

“He came in super motivated,” Hall said. “He changed his body, looked stronger, got a little more explosive on impact. Now what he's chasing is the ability to put it together on the big stage.”

Grimm credits Super Thrower coaches Scott Skipper and Mike Hieb with much of his development. Hieb threw 211-2 for Oregon City in 1988, ranking him No. 12 in state history.

“Scott really helped me develop the basics,” he said. “Mike has helped me more with fine-tuning. I can get good feedback and fix those little errors."

Grimm said his elbow hasn't been an issue for a couple years, but he deals with occasional hamstring and groin soreness. He credits a good stretching routine with being available for his meets this season.

“I've really been focused this year on staying healthy, so I haven't really done a full approach this whole year,” he said. “I'm just developing comfort with moving faster down the runway and making sure that that speed doesn't contribute to any pain or soreness.”

Grimm is excelling in an event typically dominated by bigger athletes.

“I walk up next to these guys that are like 6-3, 6-4, and they're just massive guys,” he said.

Grimm recalled how the throwers were comparing their bench-press maxes at last year's district meet. Many of them were pushing 300, and Grimm revealed that his was around 200.

“When I said that, they were kind of shocked,” he said. “They were like, 'How do you throw so far?' It's not necessarily all about lifting. I think it's the quickness down the runway, it's the throwing strength that translated from baseball. And it's explosiveness as an athlete, rather than just being able to move weight statically.”

To win a 6A title, Grimm likely will have to deal with Sherwood senior Drew Smith (194-11 PR), who finished ahead of him at the Oregon Relays and Nike/Jesuit Twilight Relays. A state championship would be nice, Grimm said, but it's not his top priority.

“I'm more focused on hitting that 200 mark,” he said. “That's been my goal for the last two years now. Sometimes I've gotten a little bit impatient waiting for it.”