High School Sports

State track championships: Hammar advances in discus

Rebecca Hammar, Buhach Colony discus
Rebecca Hammar, Buhach Colony discus Merced Sun-Star

CLOVIS -- Rebecca Hammar fouled on her first and third discus throws Friday night, but the second throw spun through the air as planned.

No, make that better than planned.

Hammar, the Stanford-bound graduate of Buhach Colony High, saved her career best for the trials of the CIF State Track and Field Championships. She tossed the discus 152 feet, 1 inch -- better than her previous best of 150-5 here last year, which earned her fourth place.

But more important, Hammar easily advanced into tonight's finals -- the top nine competitors qualified -- and will compete for the title for the third straight year (she placed third as a sophomore and sixth last year as a junior).

"If I hit the throws I've been hitting in practice, then I have a good chance of placing," Hammar said. "I just want to PR (throw her personal best). If that helps me place, that would be great."

Hammar, bothered by a groin injury and an illness in recent weeks, appears to be reaching peak form at the exact right time. Her opening foul would have bothered her earlier in her career, but she's an experienced hand now, a three-time qualifier to State. So the foul proved to be only a brief distraction.

"It (fouling) used to mess with my head-set," she said. "I knew I need to PR tonight because I may not have a good chance tomorrow."

Hammar's satisfaction turned into disappointment three hours later, however, in the shot put. The reigning Section Masters champion, second-seeded in the state meet, managed only a 40-4 and did not qualify for the finals.

Afterward, she turned to her father, BC throwing coach Mike Hammar, and shook her head. Spinning in the ring for the first time this season, she had recorded a state-best 47-1.

But there were no heroics this night.

Bringing your best to the State Meet, staged again at Buchanan High School's Veterans Memorial Stadium, demands poise under pressure and single-minded determination. Often, your best is not good enough.

Golden Valley senior Teresa Mallory capped a strong career by placing fifth in the 800 meters (2:15.47) and seventh in the 1,600 (4:57.72). Her time in the 1,600 was three seconds faster than her previous best but, to her, it didn't matter. Her sad look indicated she wouldn't be comforted by the stopwatch.

"Today wasn't about time," Mallory said. "It was about racing."

Buhach Colony sophomore Matt Moreno wrapped up his season with a fourth-place finish in his heat of the 200 meters race in 21.93 seconds, off the pace of 21.76 that he ran to take second place at Masters last week.

That leaves the stage for Hammar this afternoon in the discus. She trails Friday night leader Alex Collatz of Stockton -- the defending champion -- who threw 164-2 despite a heavy brace on her knee, the result of a volleyball injury last fall.

Winning will require something special from Hammar, but she's been special over the last three years.

"Just have fun," she self-advised, "and swing for the fences."

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