Sophomore Raquel Pellecer launches a javelin during the WWU Team Invitational April 6 at Civic Stadium // Photo by Mathew Roland
Go to school, go to practice, go home, eat and do homework. Being a college athlete isn’t always glamorous, but it’s the daily routine of sophomore javelin thrower Raquel Pellecer that has helped her become one of the best in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference this year.
Pellecer has already brought home three GNAC Track and Field Female Athlete of the Week awards.
Ben Stensland, assistant coach for Western’s track team, says the sky's the limit for Pellecer.
“She has been an absolutely outstanding leader amongst that event group,” Stensland said. “She’s demonstrated an incredible amount of maturity, which I’m very thankful for,” he said.
Stensland said he hopes Pellecer’s passion and commitment to excellence trickles down to the rest of the team.
Pellecer’s work ethic stems from a childhood of sports in Sandy, Oregon, a town with a population less than Western’s current enrollment. Pellecer fondly refers to it as the place people stop for gas and coffee on their way to Mount Hood. It was there that Pellecer found her love of javelin.
After playing softball for nine years and tearing all the ligaments in her ankle, Pellecer decided to give up the sport. With some encouragement from her basketball teammates, she switched to track and found success throwing javelin with future Western alumna and Division II national champion, Bethany Drake, also from Sandy.
With Drake’s encouragement and promise of a great track program, Pellecer committed to Western before even seeing the campus.
“Once I got here I was like ‘This place is really cool,’” Pellecer said.“It was kind of a mixture of the track program being really good and then the school actually having good academics, which can be hard to find in Oregon unless you go to a state school.”
Since coming to Western in the fall of 2016, Pellecer has won meets and worked her way into Western’s record book. This year she finished the Stanford Invitational javelin competition on March 31 in second place with a throw of 47.91 meters. That mark put her seventh on Western’s all-time outdoor record list.
Taliah Coe, a Western freshman and fellow javelin thrower, describes Pellecer as the perfect teammate, someone who inspires others and strives for excellence.
“Outside of practice, I can always go to her for advice, and in doing so, the most valuable thing I’ve learned from her is balance,” Coe said in an email. “She’s a phenomenal athlete, but also a great student, friend, dog-lover and Game of Thrones enthusiast. Raq balances and, in turn, excels in each of these areas without taking away from the other aspects of her life.”
Pellecer is an accounting major at Western, and said she likes straight-forward answers and not having to argue opinions. In her rare spare time, she enjoys reading and hiking near her hometown, but only if it’s not raining.
Pellecer said she wants to improve herself to be more technically sound and increase her speed.
“Javelin is really unique in that it takes a really diverse skill set,” Stensland said. “You think of javelin as a throw but it’s definitely not like the other throws. It’s really unique in that regard. It has a big sprinting component. It has a big plyometric and power output. It requires a ton of mobility. It requires a ton of coordination.”
Pellecer said she doesn't let the pressure get to her. She said she wants to place in the top 10 at nationals, but mostly she wants to keep enjoying her sport. Pellecer also strives to reciprocate the hard work the coaches put into their program and help her freshman teammates, whom she is all very proud of.
“She’s an excellent student, she’s an excellent leader. She’s been so fantastic in every way,” Stensland said. “The expectations are just to see her grow as a person and grow as an athlete. I hope she just keeps on doing what she’s doing and challenges herself to achieve excellence.”