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Bellevue's Hintz hopes to fly even higher
When Robert Hintz shows up to throw the javelin, he means business.
And that means dressing for success.
Hintz, a Bellevue senior and last year's state champion, always wears the same pre-throw attire - khaki pants with a button-up dress shirt - to each meet. The unorthodox getup gets people talking.
"Before he throws, everyone is going "what in the world is he wearing?'" said Bellevue javelin coach Tom Ellis. "It's kind of become his trademark."
Some may scoff and some may laugh, but all go quiet when Hintz peels down to his competition uniform and unleashes a throw that has helped him demolish Bellevue's school record, win a state meet and sign a National Letter of Intent with Stanford University.
Javelin, those who coach and participate in the sport will tell you, is more of an art; more technique than strength. Most people aren't naturals.
Hintz, a baseball player for most his life, picked up a javelin for the first time as a sophomore - and promptly threw it 150 feet, only 35 feet shy of Bellevue's school record.
"My first throw was pretty nice," Hintz said. "They started calling me "the Prodigy." But it really takes a lot of practice to get good form down."
It's one thing to have good form, Ellis said, but its a whole other thing to have the natural skill that makes a good javelin thrower.
"With javelin, if you don't have a fast arm, I don't care how strong you are, you just gotta have the right arm," Ellis said. When you spot that, like Robert has, it's like 'wow, we really do have something here.'"
Although Hintz didn't stay close to the 150-foot throw the rest of his sophomore season, he showed improvements that had Ellis believing a state run was possible as a junior.
"It was a steady progression throughout the year and my technique gradually got better and better," Hintz said. "By the end of the year, it was basically how I wanted it."
He saved his best for last. At the 3A State Championship meet, Hintz uncorked a personal record mark that demolished Bellevue's record of 185-6, set by Mike Braund in 2002. The throw, 192-6, was good enough for first place, besting rival Dylan Burnett-Lewis of Lynnwood by eight inches.
The success began to open doors for Hintz, and drew the attention of Stanford.
"Stanford was basically a dream school," Hintz said. "My grades were very good but I didn't have that extra something until I started doing better in javelin. It brought Stanford into a possibility."
With the state title comes high expectations for Hintz, who will have to likely face off again with Burnett-Lewis, who returns for his senior season. But Hintz has high expectations of himself: he hopes to throw a mark of 230-0 this year.
That distance would top the current Washington State all-time record for any classification of 212-7, set by David Musson of Colville in 2007, by more than 18 feet, and would demolish the 3A state meet record of 202-10 by Jason Harris of Renton in 2006.
Lofty goals, for sure, but goals his coach sees as more than attainable for the senior.
"I think he's got a really good shot, if he keeps at it, to eventually compete at the national level," said Ellis, who also threw at Stanford. "He's got that natural arm. You can't teach that."