Class of 1967
As a national high school record-setting javelin thrower and Olympic team member in the days before Title IX changed women’s sports, Barbara Friedrich was a track and field pioneer in the late 1960s – and has continued to be so ever since as an athlete, coach and staunch proponent for women’s opportunities in sports. Friedrich was already an outstanding all-around athlete when she entered Manasquan (N.J.) in 1963-64, but by the spring of her sophomore year had become a 151-10 javelin thrower – good for an Eastern States title and showing promise to become one of the best ever.
As a junior in 1966, Friedrich continued her rapid improvement and would break the HS record four times during the spring, topping out at 183-5 ½. She won the AAU girls’ and women’s titles and traveled to compete with Team USA in summer international meets. She even captured the first of several AAU indoor basketball throw crowns. Now there were bigger goals to shoot for and during her senior year of 1967, Friedrich not only broke the HSR five more times, but on a fateful spring day in Long Branch, N.J., solidified her throwing legacy.
Fueled by a bit of anger at her coach George Bower, who was unable to assist her during the javelin event due to pole vault venue duties, Friedrich unleashed a throw that had all those who witnessed it – including veteran track journalist Elliott Denman – shaking their heads in disbelief. The throw was measured (and certified) at 198-8 ½ — crushing not only her own prep standard but the women’s American record as well. In fact, the throw was within six feet of the World Record. Friedrich would go on that summer to take 2nd in the senior AAUs and won the Pan American Games crown in Canada – ranking #2 globally for 1967.
After graduation from Manasquan, Friedrich chased her 1968 Olympic dreams. She ruled the AAUs and Olympic Trials meets, but misfortune struck in the form of a hamstring injury before the Mexico City Games. She placed 9th in qualifying, just missing the final. Friedrich went on to Newark State College – where she won a collegiate javelin title in 1970 and starred in tennis, basketball and field hockey, as well – and subsequently began a long career as a teacher and coach.
Did You Know?
As part of her training regiment, Friedrich reportedly did 200 push-ups a night and practiced javelin-specific cross-steps until there were quarter-sized blisters on her heels.