Big throw sends sophomore to State

SACRAMENTO — Rebecca Hammar had no trouble finding motivation Thursday. The Buhach Colony sophomore just turned to her sister, a three-time State Meet competitor.

"Rachel made it to State as a sophomore, so I had to make it this year if I was going to match her," said Rebecca, whose sister was also a two-time Sac-Joaquin Section champion. "She's throwing the shot, discus and hammer at Long Beach State now."

Rebecca achieved the first step of her lofty three-step goal, heaving the shot put 39 feet, 9¼ inches, to finish second at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Meet and earn a State berth.

The top three finishers in the six field events held Thursday at Hughes Stadium go to the State Meet next week at Buchanan High in Clovis.

"I was nervous coming in because a lot of these girls had gone 39 or 40 feet," said Rebecca, the No. 6 seed after going 38-3 last week. "I've gone 40-1½, so I knew I could compete with them. I just had to hold my form."

She's counting on her sister to provide her motivation next week, too.

"Rachel threw 40-5 as a sophomore and that's what I want to beat," said Rebecca, who set her personal best of 40-1½ two weeks ago at the Meet of Champions. "My family doesn't put any pressure on me, comparing me to Rebecca, but I use it all the time."

Pitman freshman Erica Sickert delivered one of the day's surprises by finishing fifth in the shot (38-9¼) while St. Mary's Jackie Alhoo won the event (46-4½).

Hammar was the only Stanislaus District athlete to earn a state berth Thursday, but plenty of others provided worthwhile performances.

Albert Millan's timing couldn't have been better, even if it didn't earn the Livingston junior a trip to State.

"I hit a PR (personal record) in the discus and that's where I want to be right now," said Millan, eighth with a toss of 151-8. "I'm not going to State, but I've got another chance."

That opportunity is today, when Millan heaves the shot.

He's the No. 2 seed after setting a school-record last week with a heave of 54 feet, 3 inches. The top seed, Jesuit's Jeremy Hines, has a best of 55-7¼.

"I feel another PR is coming in the shot, that's how good I feel right now," Millan said.

He needs a top-three finish today to earn a berth at next week's State Meet.

"You try to build the season so you peak at the right time, and I'm there," said Millan, who tossed the discus 151-8. "At the start of the year, you set goals and when the year's over, you hope you get them.

"Eighth in the discus, with the shot out still to go ... I'm pretty happy with this year."

While Millan has another year to compete, Oakdale's Tyler Murdoch has vaulted into the air for the final time — he'll play strong safety next fall at Dixie State College in Utah. The three-time Valley Oak League champion went 13-10, good for eighth place. He missed his three tries at 14-4.

"The pole vault got me into track. I love the idea of going high and coming back down," Murdoch said. "It takes a bit of time to figure out the vault."

Murdoch set himself apart from his peers with his size: At 190 pounds, the 6-1 senior was clearly the heaviest vaulter. That meant he was trying to hoist his additional weight into the air and over the bar.

"It was a fun four years. I'm glad I was in track and that I had the chance to vault, but it's all football now," he said.

In other field events:

Golden Valley's Porsha Grayson, the No. 2 seed in the long jump, skipped the event to take part in a Grad Night celebration at Disneyland. She plans on returning tonight for the triple jump.

Modesto Christian freshman Valerie Moore finished 10th in the high jump at 4-11.

Calaveras' Tessa Gonzales (15-3¼) and Sierra's Taylor Wilson (16-½) were eighth and 11th, respectively, in the long jump.

Escalon's Brandon Cavanaugh was the No. 3 seed in the discus, but finished 11th with a toss of 146-8.

Johansen's Aaron Lucas and Livingston's Raul Millan — Albert's brother — tied for 14th in the discus with identical tosses of 144-8.

Bee staff writer Rich Estrada can be reached at or 578-2300.