High School Sports

Passing the baton: Hammar's banner career comes to close at state; Moreno's time to shine

Buhach Colony's Rebecca Hammar is the Sun-Star's Girls All-Area track Athlete of the Year. Photographed in Merced, Calif. Tues. June 7, 2011.
SUN-STAR PHOTO BY BEA AHBECK Buhach Colony's Rebecca Hammar is the Sun-Star's Girls All-Area track Athlete of the Year. Photographed in Merced, Calif. Tues. June 7, 2011. Merced Sun-Star

One decorated high school career came to an end. The other is full speed ahead.

For Rebecca Hammar, it was business as usual as the Buhach Colony senior spent this spring throwing heavy objects long distances all over the state.

For Matt Moreno, this season was a coming out party as the BC sophomore quickly made a name for himself throughout the section as a sprinter to watch the next couple years.

After they both advanced to the finals at the CIF State Meet, Hammar and Moreno are the Sun-Star Track & Field Athletes of the Year.

Hammar is proud of all her track accomplishments.

There's the three medals she's won at state the last three years.

She's won a Sac-Joaquin Section Masters championship in the shot put this year and the discus last year.The Stanford-bound star has plenty of memories to look back on from her high school career.

"I'm satisfied," she said. "I accomplished most of my goals, but above all I'm a student before I'm an athlete."Athletics helped me go to my dream school and pursue a career."

Hammar has a 3.9 GPA and plans to major in Political Science at Stanford and eventually go to law school.

Meanwhile, her stats were just as impressive on the field.

She was throwing the shot put better than she had ever done before.

Her toss of 44 feet and 7 inches at the Arcadia Invitational in April was a personal best. She topped it again during a Central California Conference meet against Atwater with a throw of 47-1.

She was spinning in the shot put for the first time this season.

"I think that helped, but I also had a better understanding of technique and throwing as a whole," Hammar said. "I knew how to better use my body and my strength level was up."

Although she was thrilled with her performance in the shot put, she was falling short of topping her previous best mark in the discus.

She finally set her personal record with a throw of 152-4 during the state trials."It definitely was frustrating, but I think that fueled my success in the shot put," she said. "I would get frustrated with the discus, but I would see something new in the shot put. Those new marks felt more tangible. It gave me something to shoot for."

Moreno overshot all of his expectations in 2011.

"My expectations were to be the top guy in Merced County," he said. "I didn't expect to go all the way to state."However, there he was last week, competing against the top sprinters in California.

It's even more remarkable when you consider he is just a sophomore.

Last year he didn't advance to the section master meet.

"After the CCC meet I started thinking that state was a possibility," Moreno said. "At the beginning of year I was thinking at the most Masters.

"When I got to Masters you could see how much bigger the other runners were than me. You could see how much stronger. They had more experience."

Still, Moreno went toe-to-toe with them, finishing second in the 200-meter dash at the Masters meet with a time of 21.76 seconds.

As he gets stronger and improves his explosion out of the starting blocks he'll be challenging for section titles in the 100.

He made the finals of the Masters meet this year in the 100.

He's come a long way in a short time since starting track as a long distance runner in seventh grade.

"It helps to have coach (Jeff) Eastman," Moreno said. "He's the best coach I've ever had. He's helped me relax as a runner.

"He's helped me with everything, my form, weight lifting and my morale.

"I'm very excited to see if I can medal next year at state."