The Tamaqua Area High School track program might as well be called "Javelin High."
That's because over the past few years the program has been able to produce three Division 1 javelin throwers. Casey Wagner (2008, South Florida), Allison Updike (2010, Georgia), and now a new name has been added to that list in Tamaqua senior Christine Streisel.
Yesterday Streisel became the newest member of the "D-1 Club" at Tamaqua High School, signing her letter of intent to participate on the track and field team at Duke University.
"Last year I went to two javelin camps in North Carolina and the Duke coach had been there and my coach John (Kotchmar) knew him from when he recruited Allison," said Streisel. "I kind of learned what he was about and what he was like although I never got to meet him because of the rules, but that's when it became evident to me that throwing at a big time Division 1 school like Duke was a real possibility. When they did actually start to recruit me I was awestruck at first because I mean it was Duke and everybody knows about Duke. It was just a really good feeling at the time and still is that something like that was a possibility for me."
Streisel began throwing javelin in eighth grade after she saw the success of Wagner. Streisel was strong and she was athletic, so she figured giving the javelin a try would be a fun idea.
"It was in the spring of my eighth grade year when the idea of me throwing the javelin actually sprouted," said Streisel. "My dad has coached Casey before in sports and my brother was in the same class with her and was friends with her. Then we got introduced to John and they talked about how not many people throw the javelin, especially at an elite level, and that it was something that I could be successful at. So my dad was the one that really got me thinking that this was something that I could do."
It didn't take long for Streisel to make her mark at the high school level. In just her freshman season she finished second at leagues and districts behind Updike and finished fifth at the PIAA State Championships.
"I saw that elite level of ability right after her first full year of training," said Tamaqua track and field coach Tom Kanger. "You could always see that she had the athletic ability, but it's such a specific sport where you do so much technique work that it's almost comparable to taking a class. She studies it, studies it, and studies it and that's what makes her so great. A fast runner could go out there and do well in the 100 meters without great technique, but if you think just because you have a strong arm you're going to pick up a javelin and throw it successfully, it's not going to happen."
Streisel kept rolling after her freshman season to say the least. She won gold at the PIAA State Championships (143-11) in her sophomore year and captured the silver last season. The fact that she finished second at states was not something Streisel was happy with and even with all her success this offseason her number one priority is to stand at the top of the podium come this year's track and field championships.
"My top priority heading into this season is to win the gold," said Streisel. "I was disappointed when I lost, but I didn't want to show it when it happened. It was hard to take a hit like that, but I wanted to be respectful and not be dramatic or make a scene about it. She beat me, she deserved to win, and I didn't do what I had to do, so yeah it definitely hurt. I think looking back on it though I'm a little more at peace with it because I learned from my mistakes and I know how to handle things better now, so I can make sure something like that never happens again."
Streisel's offseason has been impressive to say the least, including a performance at the famous Penn Relays. Streisel finished first at the event with a throw of 152.92, which was the second longest throw in the history of the Penn Relays. She was also named to the prestigious 2012 Track and Field News Girls High School All-America Team.
Streisel will receive a full-financial aide package in her freshman season and will then receive a full athletic scholarship for her sophomore, junior, and senior seasons.
Streisel is also a very talented basketball player as well and has helped lead the Lady Raiders to a 15-6 record, along with averaging 15 points per game.
She plans on studying physical therapy when she heads to Durham, NC in the fall.