Ethan and Erick Loomis show off the tools of their sports including a javelin, shotput and discus during a yard sale at their home, designed to raise funds for their trip to the Junior Olympics in Baltimore on July 23-29. (Gary Feinstein/The Sentinel)
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HANFORD - The tools of the trade for Erick and Ethan Loomis are an 800-gram metal-tipped spear, a 10-pound metal ball dangling from a wire cable handle, a single metal ball and a disk that looks like a cross between a dinner plate and a Frisbee. Scratching your head? You’re not alone.
The Loomis brothers, students at Sierra Pacific High School, are part of a tightly-knit group of throwers in the “field” part of track and field that gets little public attention but goes all the way back to ancient Greece.
The Sentinel caught up to them Saturday morning at a garage sale at their north Hanford home, where they were raising funds for the long trip to the East Coast to compete in the Junior Olympics in Baltimore, Md. from July 23-29. They earned the privilege by placing in the top five at a state qualifying meet in Tulare last weekend.
Erick, a junior, will be doing hammer, discus, shot put and javelin. Ethan, a sophomore, will compete in hammer, discus and javelin.
“It’s actually a dream of mine to compete in the real Olympics,” said Erick.
That dream didn’t come out of the blue. One look at their father, Eric Loomis, gives away the family throwing pedigree. The elder Loomis competed in the shot put and discus in high school, went to the Junior Olympics in 1993 and threw for California State University, Fresno.
“He’s our inspiration,” Ethan said.
The boys have gone out of their way to learn the craft. The regular high-school season doesn’t offer javelin and hammer, dangerous events that have caused a few fatalities and serious injuries over the past several decades. To learn technique, they turn to Redwood High Coach Randy Ziraldo, who runs a summer program called West Coast Throwers.
With only six members total, the Loomis boys form one-third of the whole team.
Both have top 10 national rankings - Erick in the hammer and Ethan in the javelin.
By midmorning Saturday, they had raised enough to cover the airfare and were pushing forward to cover all the expenses. “We’re going, no matter what,” said the father.
Throwing weighted objects long distances is only one of several extra-curricular activities that eat up the boys’ time. They also do football, wrestling and band.
But it could be the art of throwing that could give them the greatest chance at a college scholarship, Eric Loomis said. He pointed out that football and other major-sport scholarships have enormous competition, whereas there are far fewer throwers in the total pool to compete against.
Bottom line: Excel in the sport, and you’ve got a good shot at some decent college money.
“I’m really excited for them,” said Melissa Loomis, their mother. “It’s good to see your children succeeding. It’s boosting their self-esteem.”
The reporter can be reached at snidever@HanfordSentinel.com.