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Hammer throw ‘takes years to master’

Hammer throw ‘takes years to master’

Thomas Gesser, one of Cal State Stanislaus hammer throwers, works on his technique.

POSTED April 22, 2011 10:54 p.m.

The task is simple: Whoever can throw the farthest, wins.

But when it comes to the hammer throw, the task isn’t as easy as it looks. Actually, it looks dangerous, which explains why there’s netting around the rings competitors use to throw a 16-pound metal ball that’s attached to a long wire and handle.

“Especially the hammer throw, it’s very easy to get addicted,” Stanislaus junior thrower Thomas Gesser said.

Yes, the event is about who can throw the farthest. But it’s not about who’s the strongest, and this sentiment will be seen at the NCAA Division II Track and Field Championships at Al Brenda Track on the Cal State Stanislaus campus on May 26-28, an event that is expected to attract thousands of athletes, coaches and supporters. Despite the danger of tossing around a heavy metal object, competitors in the hammer throw say that the event is fun.

That’s one reason why Katie Busi got into it. She’s best known on the Stanislaus campus as an all-region player in women’s basketball, who recently led the Warriors to a rare appearance in the California Collegiate Athletic Association’s postseason tournament. One reason she joined the track and field team was to keep busy. The transition hasn’t been too difficult for her, as she understands the nuisances of making sure every little thing about her throw goes right.

“If one thing goes wrong,” Busi said, “it can throw everything off.”

The hammer throw is a technical event. It has to be, since no other track and field event deals with such a heavy object. A competitor walks into the two interlocked rings paved into the concrete. He or she then grabs the end of the metal wire, spins around four times and release the object into the air.

“It’s really technical,” Gesser said. “I’m not saying the other throwing events aren’t. It’s completely different when you’re going against something while you’re trying to work with it. If you slip up, it’s gonna show you who’s boss.”

At Stanislaus, Cuauhtemoc Vallejo-Howard has been dominating.

His career-best throw of 189 feet, 8 inches is enough for the third-best in school history. He has already surpassed the national provisional qualifying mark of 182-1.

“It’s fun, but it’s challenging,” he said. “You can have a bad two months, but then you can have a good week. You have to get good at it. You know things are going well when you feel like you’re not working extra hard to throw it.”

“It’s an event that takes years to master,” Stanislaus throwing coach Ryan Vierra said. “It takes a lot of balance, a lot timing and a lot of skills training.”

To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.

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