A few throws after Riley Dolezal broke the North Dakota State University javelin record in 2009 with a toss of 228 feet, 11 inches, Dolezal blew out his elbow.
The injury required Tommy John surgery and ended the Stanley native's college career.
But the 26-year-old Dolezal stuck with the sport - training with former NDSU athletes under the name Team Nodak - and is one of 24 javelin throwers competing in the Olympic Trials beginning Saturday at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.
Stanley native Riley Dolezal is shown throwing the javelin for Team Nodak, a track and field team composed of former North Dakota State University athletes. Dolezal is one of 24 throwers competing in the event at the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., beginning Saturday. Photo courtesy of NDSU sports information.
The field will be halved after Saturday's throws. The remaining participants will compete again on Monday to narrow the field to eight, and finally, the three athletes who will represent the United States at the London Olympics.
The magic mark is 82 meters, which has been surpassed by Sean Furey (82.73), Craig Kinsley (82.31) and Cyrus Hostetler (82.24). If none of the other athletes pass the 82-meter mark, Dolezal said, those three will qualify for the Olympics.
Dolezal's personal best is 73.51 meters, but he hopes the atmosphere of the Trials will help him add length.
"I've thought about (the Olympics) and obviously it'd be huge and it'd be great to hit a big throw like that," Dolezal said. "Right now it's in my mind; I'm just trying to make the finals and - since it's such a big meet - see how much extra energy the adrenaline can add."
Dolezal has been training with NDSU assistant coach Justin St. Clair in preparation for the meet.
Since his elbow injury deprived him of competing in collegiate nationals, Dolezal said he's hoping to crack the top 12 and then soak the experience in.
"I'm hoping to just have fun with it," Dolezal said. "It'll be an experience that maybe I won't ever get (again)."