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"Yeah. I haven't called him Ed in a longtime."
"He never calls anyone by his right name if he can help it," says Brian.
The youngest Crouser has always been more at home among these weights. In high school in Gresham, a suburb of Portland, Dean's best bench press was 205. "A girl beat me," he says joyously. Brian's was 385.
In his junior year Brian won the state high school meet in all three throws, and he has also thrown the hammer 189 feet. Dean is the family hammer champ at 201'8". In high school he threw the javelin, reaching 230'6" in 1978. "One of the best high school throws in the nation that year," he says. "On the next one, I blew out my elbow."
To continue in track, he had to concentrate on the heavier implements, as had Mitch, who had thrown the spear 228 feet the summer he graduated from high school, only to tear elbow ligaments soon after. (Indeed, Oregon's most accomplished throwing alumnus, 1976 Olympic discus champion Mac Wilkins, was forced to abandon the javelin for the discus in precisely the same way.) This pattern is on all their minds just now because Brian has bone chips and scar tissue in his throwing elbow. He has since undergone surgery. He had hoped to postpone the operation until after this year's NCAA meet in Houston in early June to give himself a chance to be a four-time winner, but he decided that immediate surgery would allow him more time to recover for the Olympic year.
There's danger in throwing while even mildly injured. The chance of severe damage is always present. "And his form could go bad," says Oregon Throwing Coach Ray Burton. "In the javelin you channel the force through such a fine line of direction that any variation is crucial." How fine is the channel? That is best illustrated by Brian's ability to throw an arrow 230 feet. That's right, an arrow. "In the weights, when you're 24 or 25 you're pretty much stuck with the technique you have," Burton continues. "Brian is so close to what he wants that I'd hate to see him risk it by developing bad habits in response to this elbow."
He avoided any danger of doing that in one dual meet this spring by throwing lefthanded. He got a point for third with a toss of 124'11". "My God, Brian," said an official who wasn't watching closely, "what's gone wrong with you? A month ago you threw 280."
Dean settles himself to try inclines at 290. Burton spots this time. The rest of the throwers in the room, among them Kent Landerholm, who has improved by 23 feet in the hammer this year to 222'6", and Steve Davis, who is 6'8" and 290, and throws the discus 193'11", pause to watch. Dean has, over the months, called Davis "Sven," which he has slowly transmogrified to "Shvain," "Spain," and "Pain."
He gets the 290 pounds up twice, but the third time takes long, trembling seconds. "Stay with it!" shouts Burton. "Keep it coming!" Finally there's the clank of success, and everyone relaxes. Dean shoots a look at Davis. "Think I'd drop that one. Dale?"
Talk turns to Oregon football players they know who have recently signed pro contracts. "Dean's a better athlete than Jeff Stover was," says Burton. Stover put 68'4½" for Oregon in 1980 and now plays defensive line for the 49ers.