Holy Ghost Prep senior thrower Jim Budzinski has had quite a month.
In early April, he received his acceptance letter to Dartmouth College of the Ivy League, where he will continue his academic and athletic career.
Then, on Friday, Budzinski far eclipsed his previous personal record in the Penn Relays boys’ javelin throw to finish third in the high school boys’ championship.
“I wasn’t trying to think about previous throws,” said Budzinski, who set his new personal record at 203 feet, 10 inches on his third throw of the day – his final of the preliminaries. “I was trying to clear my head, focus on that throw, and I really just relaxed and threw it as hard as I could when it counted.”
Budzinski’s throw was more than ten feet further than his previous record of 192 feet, six inches, which he set on March 27 at the Pennsylvania Track Classic at Great Valley.
“He’s been tiptoeing around that 190, 192 as his best for a while,” Firebirds throwing coach Drew Bortz said. “We were hoping today would be the day he would really put one out there, and he got everything right.”
Budzinski’s third-place finish was a marked improvement from his eighth-place result in last year’s Penn Relays javelin championship.
In Budzinski’s junior year, he entered the Penn Relays championship in the second of two flights of qualifiers, and Bortz said as an underdog, Budzinski had to strain towards a career high each of his first three throws just to reach the finals.
But on Friday, as the fourth-ranked thrower, Budzinski approached the competition slightly differently.
“We knew if he just threw close to his best [in preliminaries], he was probably was going to be guaranteed to get in the finals,” Bortz said. “So his first throw was just a good solid, 95 percent-ish, just something to make sure you’re going to get another three throws.”
Budzinski would have qualified for the final round with his first throw of just more than 191 feet. But that throw also took pressure off him so he ultimately could achieve a personal best before the finals even began.
“The worst thing you can do is get all tight,” Budzinski said of trying to match the winning throw of 216 feet, five inches by Kalib Zuidema of Midland Park, N.J. “I just wanted to keep my composure, and everything kind of worked out together on that third throw.”
St. Pius X junior Tom Lang finished seventh with a throw of 189 feet, ten inches.