Senior javelin thrower Elise Knutzen calls last year's career-long throw of 45.62 meters at the NCAA Mideast Regional her greatest athletic achievement at Notre Dame.

Shattering Stereotypes

April 14, 2010

By Kelly Taylor
Sports Information Student Assistant

When most avid sports spectators picture throwing events, they envision muscular men projecting heavy objects high into the air, hollering in satisfaction, and anxiously awaiting the demise of their other male competitors. However, for senior thrower Elise Knutzen, this picture paints a false reality. Knutzen, a Seattle, Wash., native, is recognized for her javelin-throwing skills, as a female. As Notre Dame’s main competitor in the javelin, she goes into the 2010 season with high hopes.

Initially stumbling upon the sport in high school, Knutzen has sought out success ever since. “I first went out for track as a freshman in high school because I thought I was going to run. But after injuring my foot, I picked up the field event,” Knutzen said. Luckily for Knutzen, javelin is offered in the state of Washington, as not all states hold the dynamic event.

According to Knutzen, she enjoys participating in a sport that is co-ed. Aside from that, she holds her own in regards to her female status. “It’s a lot of fun to hear people’s reactions when they hear that I throw javelin,” she said. “I just really love competing so it makes it even more worthwhile.”

Knutzen acknowledges the fact that javelin is much more technical than most people think. “It’s not just based on strength, there are a lot of technical factors that go into it,” she said. The technical aspect is Knutzen’s favorite part, however.

Knutzen also notes some of her sport’s other distinguishing factors. “Javelin is hard because we train so much but compete so little,” she said. “It’s solely an outdoor sport but we train all year-round.” This appears to be one of the main difficulties for javelin participants to overcome.

Specifically in regards to Notre Dame, Knutzen relishes in the excellent coaching and atmosphere. “When I initially visited I loved it here,” she said. “We have great coaching, and we are able to stay focused while having fun at the same time.”

In terms of her greatest athletic achievement at Notre Dame, Knutzen notes the 2009 NCAA Mideast Regional where she made a career best throw at 46.52 meters. “I didn’t quite make it to nationals, but I competed really well regardless,” she said.

For the upcoming outdoor season, Knutzen hopes to qualify for the NCAA Championships above all else. She fell just short of qualifying last year, and now possesses the motivation to make her goals a reality. Aside from that, she maintains other goal-oriented ideas. “It would be really cool to break the school record,” she said. “I’m about two feet off so that would make me really happy.”

Recently, Knutzen competed at the 2010 Arizona State Invitational, which happens to be her favorite venue to compete at. “I really love the warm weather and the palm trees, and it’s just a lot of fun,” she said. This year, she placed 10th with a toss of 41.74 meters.

A science-business major, Knutzen hopes to take a year off after graduation before applying to pharmacy school. Perhaps the free year will enable her to participate in some of her other hobbies outside of track and field. “I really enjoy hanging out with friends, reading books, and cooking,” she said. Knutzen also enjoys spending time with her family in her hometown of Seattle.

As Knutzen prepares to finish off her collegiate career, she expresses the fact that the feelings are bittersweet. “I’m both sad and relieved. It’s been such a great experience to compete here, but at the same time, I’m ready for a change,” she said.

As the javelin plummets towards the turf, the crowd reacts with awe as they look back to see a female rejoicing in celebration. Elise Knutzen sets the bar high in terms of representing the female side of field events.

— ND —