Christie Bettle fell in love with throwing the javelin by accident two years ago, and so far this season the Greensburg Central Catholic senior has the best throw in the WPIAL’s Class AA.
During her sophomore season at Kiski Area, she strained her quadriceps, and her coach pulled her out of her running and jumping events.
“A friend who threw the javelin told me to come over and warm up,” Bettle said. “Then she begged coach to put me in the meet, and I took second against Franklin Regional.”
Bettle, of Allegheny Township, transferred to Greensburg Central Catholic for the following school year, and advanced to the PIAA Class AA track and field meet in the javelin and shot put. She took fourth in the javelin with a throw of 125 feet, 5 inches, which broke her school’s record.
The previous record was held by Colleen Rosensteel, a 1985 Greensburg Central Catholic graduate who went on to throw for the University of Florida.
Though Rosensteel’s forte was not the javelin — she took first in the state in the discus four years in a row and in shot put three years in a row — she has taken Bettle under her wing.
Rosensteel began working with Bettle a year ago.
“Christie came to me and said she wanted to throw and wanted to get a scholarship,” Rosensteel said. “I knew a little about the javelin, and because of her dedication, I learned a little bit and picked the brains of the best in the country so I could help her out.”
The 5-foot-10 Bettle needed more help with the mental aspect of the sport than the physical.
“I had to get her to understand that you train for the technical part of it,” Rosensteel said. “It was a whole new way she had to think.”
Rosensteel and Muzzy Colosimo, Greensburg Central Catholic’s track and field coach, said that if allowed, Bettle would work out to the point of exhaustion.
“You have to tell her to go home sometimes,” Colosimo said.
Rosensteel added: “The main thing is getting her to break training with bad habits, working out when tired. She’s got to work smarter, not harder.”
Rosensteel said Bettle began to grasp the concept at the end of last season, when she took second in the javelin in the WPIAL.
“And the thing was, she started to have more fun with it,” Rosensteel said. “She wasn’t beaten down with it.”
Last summer, Bettle took fifth in the javelin at the USA Track and Field Junior Olympic National Championships. That, coupled with her success at last year’s PIAA meet, got the attention of collegiate programs.
Some of the schools that have recruited Bettle include Manhattan University, Penn State, the University of North Carolina, Fordham and the University of Virginia.
“I’m going to end up signing with UVA, but I’m still waiting to hear from the Air Force,” Bettle said.
Bettle had a late start this season because she was one of the leaders of Greensburg Central Catholic’s girls basketball team, which made it to the semifinals of the PIAA Class AA playoffs.
She’s only thrown in four meets this spring. However, Bettle’s throw of 120 feet, 10 inches Thursday against Mount Pleasant is the best in WPIAL Class AA so far, and her shot put throw of 33-6 is fifth in the area.
“This year, I’ve learned to relax,” Bettle said. “Basically, I just go and relax and throw the distance I have to throw.”