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Eric Peterson, Published July 17 2013

Ex-Dragons javelin thrower is a champ again at age 51

Moorhead - When Paul Lykken returned to throwing the javelin, blue jeans and football cleats were part of his uniform.

That was a few springs ago at the Ron Masanz track meet at Minnesota State Moorhead.

“I fell back in love with it after 25 years,” said Lykken, who graduated from Moorhead State in 1985 and now lives in Owatonna, Minn.

Last Saturday, Lykken won a national title in the event in his age division at the USA Masters Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Olathe, Kansas.

Lykken, 51, placed first in the javelin in the men’s 50 (ages 50-54) division with a throw of 57.08 meters (187 feet, 3 inches).

“I just wanted to throw as the best that I could,” Lykken said. “To be competing again at my age was just so much fun.”

Lykken is still the MSUM record holder in the “old” javelin with a toss of 80.65 meters (264-1) in 1985. The javelin was redesigned (so it wouldn’t fly as far) after Lykken graduated from college so MSUM has two records for the event.

Lykken was at the Masanz meet in 2011 when another former Dragons track athlete, Tim Fisher, talked Lykken back into competition.

Fisher held the school javelin record before Lykken. Mark Waldera held the record in between those two.

All three competed in the javelin (unattached) at the 2011 Masanz, an event named after the former MSUM coaching legend.

“We all exchanged one pair of football cleats,” Lykken said with a laugh.

Lykken wore blue jeans and a T-shirt, but managed to make the finals.

“It added to my curiosity,” said Lykken, who at the time hadn’t thrown the javelin for 25 years. “I never expected that I would ever throw javelin again. … That kind of got my juices flowing again.”

Lykken competed at the Masanz in May 2012 and again made the finals.

More than a month later, Lykken suffered a serious injury to his right leg that required surgery. He was unable to put any weight on that leg for a month.

The injury put his javelin comeback on hold for a year. He returned to competition near the end of this past June at the Midwest Region Masters in Waukesha, Wis. Lykken threw the javelin 52.68 meters, taking first in the men’s 50 division.

That performance set the stage for national meet.

Lykken’s main goal at nationals was not to get injured. He also wanted to have fun and throw a personal best. Winning was fourth on his list of priorities.

“That was the bonus,” Lykken said.

Lykken – who graduated from Kindred High School in 1980 – said he enjoyed exchanging stories with his fellow competitors.

“Everybody has got a health issue that they have battled with in their career whether it’s a shoulder surgery,” Lykken said. “One guy had a stroke. I’ve had five knee surgeries and a shoulder surgery.”

Lykken also liked that he had the chance to share the experience with Audrey, his wife, and Madison, his 17-year-old daughter. They were both at the national meet.

“This actually was the first time that she’d seen me throw,” Paul said of his daughter. “That was kind of cool.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com