Lakeside High senior Zach Annanie likes watching things fly and flying himself.
That, in part, explains why his favorite track and field events are a rare combination of javelin and pole vault.
At 5-foot-11, 155 pounds, he wouldn’t be someone picked out of a crowd. He blends in until he has a javelin or pole in hand. That’s when he separates himself from others.
His Eagles coaches say Annanie is equal parts brawn and brain. He’s in the Running Start program at Spokane Falls Community College. He’ll graduate with 3.96 grade-point average and ranked second in a class of 122.
Annanie didn’t start pole vaulting until the middle of his sophomore year. He was a quick study. He qualified for state, finishing seventh and posting a personal best of 13 feet.
“He’s the best math student in the senior class and physics is a piece,” pole vault coach Paul Huffman said. “He understands it and puts it with his natural God-given athletic ability. That’s what makes him better than others.”
His best event is javelin. He’s thrown 200 feet or farther four times this spring, and he leads all classifications with 203-1, ranked 12th in the nation.
Annanie’s personal best in the pole vault (14-6) is tops in the 1A rankings. He holds the school records in pole vault and javelin.
He leads the next-closest 1A thrower by 35 feet. He’s heavily favored to win a third straight state title. And he wants to collect his first state title in the pole vault and placing third last year.
Annanie broke the school record of 176-6 with his last throw at state (183-7) as a sophomore. Since then, he has extended it seven times.
His favorite sport before high school was soccer, but in eighth grade he threw a lighter shorter javelin 170-10. It ranked second in the nation.
He dropped soccer for track when he arrived at Lakeside.
It’s believed that of all the field events, javelin and pole vault require more technique. One college coach sees a correlation in the training for both events.
“It’s closer to what jumpers do than what throwers do,” Mississippi assistant throws coach John Smith was quoted in a story for Champion Magazine. “Javelin throwers are usually specialists. The training for the other throws does not mix well with the javelin whatsoever.”
“Someone that understands the technique in one of them might be able to pick up the technique in the other,” Annanie said.
Huffman and javelin coach Brian Hill say Annanie can coach himself in both events and gladly assists teammates.
“He understands the javelin so well now that he’s able to critique himself nearly every throw and can tell me the strengths and weaknesses of the throw,” Hill said.
Hill knows a little about the event. A Shadle Park grad, he set the school record of 223-8 in 1982, a mark that still stands.
Huffman has coached eight girls state vault champs. He hopes Annanie is his first male champ.
Annanie appreciates the expertise he is around daily at practice.
“I wouldn’t be where I am without my two coaches,” he said.
Head coach Jim Pettet agrees. He marvels at Annanie’s ability to take what he learns and put it to work.
“Whatever he touches turns to gold,” Pettet said.
Annanie also throws the discus and shot put. That gives him hands-on knowledge of all but two of the six field events in the decathlon. He considered doing the decathlon in college but has decided against it.
“I was talking to a Brown University coach last fall and he convinced me not to do it,” Annanie said. “He said trying to balance school work and training for 10 different events is a lot of stress.”
Annanie will just throw the javelin in college. He took a recruiting visit last weekend to Washington State. He had a visit the previous weekend at Washington.
“This kid is the real deal,” Pettet said. “I think every college is missing out on him.”
Annanie relishes competition. He possessed the lead in the javelin at state the last two years until someone moved past him prior to the last throw. He responded with winning throws on his last attempts.
It happened again this season at the Pasco Invite. That’s when Annanie threw his career best.
“He doesn’t cave under pressure. He thrives on it,” Pettet said.
In two weeks, when the state meet is at Eastern Washington University, Annanie will be reaching for more.