At Friday's Phil Wertman track and field meet in Grand Junction, away from the main events of the Stocker Stadium track, Hotchkiss junior Mariah Young set a new personal best in the shot put with a throw of 26 feet, 7 inches. Her second throw went 2 feet farther, measuring at 28-6.75.
"I'm really excited," said Young, a junior and one of seven lady throwers for the Bulldogs.
Hotchkiss throwing coach Curtis Hintz has worked with the throwers on improving footwork recently, and she passed the 25-foot mark for the first time a week earlier at Coal Ridge. But she didn't expect to improve her distance by 4 feet.
Young had the 11th- best throw of the day. Despite not placing, her improvements were met with high-fives and hugs from her teammates.
It may not have been a top-18 throw that will get her to state, noted Hintz, but those are the types of successes the team tracks very closely.
In track and field competition, the discus and shot put throwers typically don't get much recognition unless they do something really big, said Hintz.
Because throwing events are often held outside the track, they receive less exposure. But that doesn't matter to these throwers. They focus on other aspects of competition, supporting each other and forging lasting friendships among themselves and with other teams.
"They're a very dynamic group," said Hintz, now in his ninth year as throwing coach at HHS. The year prior to that he coached at the K-8 school. Not only are they a close-knit team, they are close outside of competition, at school, and with other teams. "They enjoy being around each other."
"We're like a big throwing family," said junior Kylie Hodges, who leads the girls' team in both events. "That's what we call it, anyway."
All seven female throwers compete in both shot and discus, although they have their favorites.
"Shot, definitely," said junior Nilam Hypio. "The discus is too big for my hands."
Most of them admit that they aren't into the running or jumping aspects of competition. Junior Daryl Batt, who competes on relays and in the 400-meter dash, is the only runner in the group. On Friday, she placed fifth and set a new personal record in the discus with a throw of 104 feet. That throw qualified her for state as she is in the top 18 in the state in the discus throw.
Hodges started throwing in middle school and holds the girls' K-8 school record in the shot put. Her freshman year she focused on shot, but has added 6 feet to her distance in the discus this season after placing 10th last year at state. "My discus form has come really far. My freshman year I was just all over the place. It's actually consistent now," said Hodges, who is ranked third in state 2A competition; she is ranked sixth in the shot, after failing to qualify in the event last season.
And while they have fun at meets, they also know when to get serious, said Hintz. "It definitely is a very technical event, both shot and disc," he said while preparing his throwers for last Friday's meet. "It requires a lot of technique." The boys' shot weighs 12 pounds and the girls' shot is eight pounds; discus weights are three point nine and two point two pounds. Incorrect form can result in injuries, either to the thrower or spectators.
Hintz, the defensive coordinator for the Bulldogs football team, played baseball in college where some of his teammates were throwers. He was exposed to the sport when he went to meets to support his teammates. But he learned how to coach throwers by taking clinics with track head coach, Kelly Cowan. Now, he said, there are many on-line resources for coaches of any sport, including clinics and Webinars, which allow coaches to learn, interact and share knowledge without having to travel.
Discus technique has remained largely unchanged over the years, said Hintz, but the shot technique known as the glide and used by most high school throwers is changing with the addition of a spin, particularly on the boys' side.
The best male high school throwers today are using the spin. "With girls, it's still primarily gliders," he said. As a safety precaution, he's introducing only the more advanced throwers, both male and female, to the technique.
Senior Mason Oxford, who has thrown since middle school, only recently tried the spin technique at Coal Ridge. "You want to make sure kids throw in safe fashion and are comfortable in the ring," said Hintz.
With just three meets remaining before state, the girls are working hard to qualify for state. But they aren't so serious about it that they can't take time to enjoy just being at the meets. Whether they prefer discus or shot, there's one thing they all can agree on: it's fun. "That's a big part of throwing," said Hodges. "That's why we're here."blog comments powered by Disqus