State

State finish caps year for district's best in Girls Track: Rebecca Hammar

Buhach Colony High junior Rebecca Hammar, an elite weight events star, has competed everywhere from Stanford to New Orleans to Denver.

She expects to succeed and, judging by the medals she's won the last two years at the CIF State Track and Field Championships, she succeeds often.

So why is she fretting about nerves before big moments?

The answer is simple — she's young and, by the way, she's not the only nervous athlete at big meets.

"I'm becoming a lot more technical with my throws," Hammar said this week. "If I have all my positions down, I'll get more confident. That will help. Maybe being a senior will help, too."

Looking back at her accomplishments also should give her comfort. Hammar, third in the state in the discus as a sophomore, tacked on a better-than-it-appears sixth at last week's State Meet in Clovis.

For the second straight year, the strong girl from Atwater is The Bee's Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year.

Hammar announced her presence at the State Trials with a personal-best 150 feet, 5 inches. Maxing out your performance on the most important day makes for sweet music for any athlete, and Hammar relished the moment. She was hardly fazed later that night when she failed to qualify for finals in the shot put.

But in the discus finals, Hammar labored until her sixth and final throw, a 141-8, that jumped her to sixth. Not her best but, then again, not a major disappointment. Hammar had thrown 10 feet farther to finish sixth this season than she threw last year when she was third.

"I definitely did not have as good a day as Friday. You're not going to have many great days two days in a row," she said. "I am happy, though, place-wise and with the progress I've made. The State overall was a lot more competitive this year. The girls were more on their game."

Hammar remains close with older sister Rachel, a point-getter in four field events for two seasons at Long Beach State. She plans, however, to redshirt one year and transfer to Cal State Stanislaus.

Mike Hammar, the girls' father, starred for the Warriors in the mid-1980s. Today, he's Buhach Colony's weight-events coach and, of course, he dials in his daughters' technique daily.

Rachel, a powerful 5-foot-6½, excels in the shot put, where she placed sixth in the state at Buhach Colony. Rebecca, at 5-11½, is longer and more angular. It's no shock why Rebecca has broken all her sister's records at Buhach Colony.

"She's perfectly fine with it," Rebecca said. "It will be great to have her close to home again."

Rebecca picked up seconds in both the shot and the discus at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Championships, the prelude to State. In fact, she is unbeaten in duals and league meets the last two years. The only athlete to beat her at that level so far is, yes, Rachel, when Rebecca was a freshman.

Meanwhile, Rebecca already plans for her final high school season. It actually begins this summer with a one-week stay in Spokane, Wash., for the Ironwood throwers camp that has produced so many Olympians over the years.

But eventually, she must address those butterflies. Enter the father.

"We need to work on her swagger. She's always been the younger one," Mike Hammar says. "She has to realize she's on top of the food chain. She's been throwing since she was 9. Her credentials are as good as anyone."

Bee staff writer Ron Agostini can be reached at ragostini@modbee.com or 578-2302.

Related stories from Merced Sun-Star

  Comments