As he stood on a Billerica High field April 24, Lucas Frost was next up in the javelin throw.
A junior at Tewksbury Memorial High School, he’d only recently taken up the event, and was fresh off a meager 95-foot throw in his first meet.
But that inaugural throw had come from a standing position. Now in his second as a member of the junior varsity squad, Frost began with a two-step running start and launched the spear once more — this time a startling 149 feet.
The javelin coach who’d been working with him to improve his distance wasn’t even there to witness the miraculous surge.
“The head coach texted me,’’ recalled Andrea Caprio with a laugh, “and was like ‘Hey, Lucas just threw 149, so I think I’m going to bump him up to varsity.’ And I’m driving over to the meet from work like, ‘What? He threw 149 feet, are you kidding me?’ ”
It was no joke. Frost had gone virtually overnight from what might be expected from a youngster who’d never thrown a javelin competitively before to a distance ranking in the top 20 statewide.
In the moments leading up to the heave, Frost had no clue he could reach that far. “Definitely not,” he said.
On June 2, he did it again, exceeding his expectations with another long-distance toss. Performing at the Elliot Track on the campus of Fitchburg State University, Frost established a new personal best — 179 feet, 10 inches — to win the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association All-State title by over nine feet.
By his own account, he had been hoping to finish in the top three.
“I didn’t think I was going to be that good,” said Frost, 17. “I didn’t think I was going anywhere with it.”
Frost’s sudden emergence in the event is all the more remarkable because he’d barely ever touched a javelin before this spring.
In his first two years at Tewksbury, he sprinted in the winter on the indoor track team, then traded in his spikes and singlet for cleats and a glove in the spring for baseball season.
But after indoor track ended and spring rolled around this year, Frost decided on a change.
“I just wasn’t enjoying baseball as much anymore,” he said. “I was always interested in jav. It seemed fun.”
Frost quit baseball and continued on with track, along with a number of friends who did the same.
While the javelin piqued his interest, he remained mostly a sprinter early on, working with Caprio for only an hour once a week.
It wasn’t until that JV throw in the Billerica meet that Frost became fully invested in an event that’s one of the original holdovers from the ancient Greek Olympics.
“I just kept improving,’’ he said, “from then on.”
Caprio started working with Frost on his running start, form, release, and everything else involved in the javelin throw. Frost quickly improved on his personal bests, moving from 149 feet, to 155, 169, and then 174 before adding almost six more feet at the All-State meet.
“Some people aren’t peaking until their senior year of college after eight years of it,” said Caprio, “and he’s been doing this for eight weeks maybe. Not even.”
He took home first-place honors in the Merrimack Valley Conference championship May 20 and the MIAA Division 3 East championship meets May 26 — winning the latter by over 11 feet.
“I think it just clicked for him finally,” said Caprio, in her second year as the team’s javelin coach. “It was really exciting.”
On the afternoon of June 1, a day before the All-State meet, Frost was out on the Tewksbury Memorial track with Caprio and a handful of teammates while workers prepared for the graduation ceremony later that evening. A year shy of graduation himself, he knows he wants to participate in track in college, but hasn’t given much thought as to where yet.
He warmed up with standing throws before slinging spears full throttle downfield. After each toss, he remained expressionless, but Caprio said that in this case appearances can be deceiving.
“He’s really laid back, but at the same he’s really, really competitive, so you can tell the way he gets hyped is very calm,” she said. “For the first fews weeks, I was very confused.”
Frost still has kinks in his form. He said he doesn’t bring his arm back behind his head far enough when gearing up for the release, a flaw he thinks traces back to his days on the mound hurling baseballs instead of spears.
“I still have a lot to work on with my form,” he said. “There’s a bunch of flaws . . . that my coach is improving on with me. Once we get there, I’ll probably throw hopefully over 180’’ feet.
Caprio sees much more potential in Frost, and expects him to get stronger in the offseason. Once he does that, she could see him gaining another 20 yards or more.
“I’ve told him ‘Oh, this weekend you could throw 185,’ and he’s like, ‘Really? You think so?’ ” she said. “Even next season, he could be throwing over 200.”Matt Case can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.