Former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt was famous for saying “speak softly and carry a big stick.”
Grantsville’s Gavin Eyre took those words and applied them to the state track and field meet last month, when the soft-spoken senior threw his javelin — a big stick of sorts — more than 11 feet farther than he ever had before. His toss of 181 feet, 7.5 inches shattered his own personal record and earned him the Class 3A state championship, and also earned him the Transcript Bulletin’s Boys Athlete of the Year award for 2016-17.
Eyre came into the state meet having only broken the 170-foot barrier for the first time nine days earlier, and he was only two weeks removed from surpassing 160 feet for the first time. Before his senior season, his personal-best mark was 114-2.
Eyre, a three-sport athlete who also played football and basketball for the Cowboys, earned a full-ride, academic-athletic scholarship to play football at Southern Utah University in Cedar City — the only football player in Tooele County to earn a Division I scholarship.
“He’s a kid who’s had to do it all on his own,” SUU assistant coach Ryan Hunt told the Transcript Bulletin in February. “There’s a lot of people who have doubted him even in Tooele County. The kid just has a tremendous upside and you can tell he’s a hard worker just based on what he’s achieved academically, both with his GPA and his ACT score.”
A 6-foot-4, 220-pound tight end who figures to play the same position in college, Eyre led Grantsville with 46 catches for 354 yards and three touchdowns and presented major matchup problems for opposing defenses with his combination of size and athleticism. Over his high-school career, he had 151 catches for 1,115 yards and eight scores. He was a major part of Grantsville’s resurgence on the gridiron this season, as the Cowboys bounced back from a rough start to finish third in Class 3A North and advanced to the state quarterfinals, losing a heartbreaker to eventual state runner-up Delta.
“He’s been fanatical in his work ethic,” Thane Eyre, Gavin’s father, told the Transcript Bulletin in February. “Rather than go out with friends, he would rather work out, whether it’s in our basement or with training equipment he would buy and go outside.”
Eyre also played a key role for Grantsville’s boys basketball team, which went undefeated in Region 10 play. Playing primarily in a reserve role, his stats weren’t flashy — 3.9 points and just under three rebounds per game — but he was efficient, shooting 50 percent from the field, and he provided some additional bulk in the post for the Cowboys. He had a season-high 13 points in a non-region loss to Class 4A powerhouse Timpanogos, and scored 10 points in a loss to eventual Class 3A runner-up Juan Diego.
After the Cowboys were eliminated in the first round of the state tournament by Richfield, Eyre’s focus shifted to the track and field season. He showed vast improvement not only in the javelin, but in the 100-meter dash as well, where he shaved more than half a second off his previous personal-best and finished 21st in Class 3A at state.