STAMFORD, Conn. – Last year at this time, Westhill High School’s Steph Roones had not unleashed a javelin in competition. On Friday, the senior three-sport standout from Stamford committed to Division I Monmouth University to compete in the event for the next four years at the New Jersey college.
Roones thought one year ago she might play basketball, volleyball or both on the Division III level. One season of track and field, and swift progress in her event, told her to commit to the javelin full time.
“It was a strange sport when I started,’’ Roones said. “I didn’t imagine I’d be that good at it. Technique is more important than strength. It just came to me somewhat naturally. It’s an interesting skill. After a little while I was able to pick it up pretty quickly.”
Roones finished third in the event at the Class LL and second in the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference. Her top toss last spring was 123 feet, 6 inches, and was the sixth best throw among state girls.
“The most difficult thing about it is the run up,’’ Roones said. “You have to run straight and then turn sideways. It’s different than throwing a baseball because of the way you have to move your body. I like it because it’s the only sport that I do individually. It’s interesting to see how much progress you can make in a season.”
At Monmouth, she will compete for the top women’s program in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. The school has won 15 championships in women’s cross country and track and field since coach Joe Compagni took over the program in 1995. Monmouth won the Northeast Conference outdoor championship in 2013. Monmouth joined the MAAC last summer.
“I liked the campus and the track team was really nice,’’ said Roones, who plans to major in physical education and health. “Plus I can get my master's degree in five years. That was a big plus.”
Roones said she has been carefully weighing her options since last summer. “It’s the sport that I picked up the fastest, and it made sense to do it in college,’’she said. “It was a gradual decision. Hopefully I’ll find some time to pick up a basketball.”
Her decision to commit to track comes after the high point of her sports career on the basketball court. She helped the Vikings girls basketball team reach the semifinals of the Class LL tournament. Westhill ousted league champion and top-seeded Danbury in the quarterfinals.
“We really wanted to play them again,’’ Roones said. The Hatters beat Westhill, 47-39, during the regular season. “We thought we could beat them. The funny thing is the road team usually wins in that game, and we won it in Danbury.”
Roones earned first-team honors in the FCIAC and was a second team All-FCIAC selection in volleyball. In basketball, she was part of a team that won 37 games over the past two years and won the city championship for the first time since Roones joined the team.
“I think we surprised a lot of people,’’ she said. “We knew we were losing some great players from last year. But we also knew we had some players coming back and they could step up and we could have a strong team. I don’t think the coaches or the players were all that surprised.”
With basketball behind her, Roones can turn her focus to the sport she will pursue in college.
“I’d like to break my own personal record this spring in the javelin and hopefully win the FCIACs,’’ she said. “It’s going to be a fun season.”