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Post Falls’ Austin Funk is a discus thrower but started throwing the hammer about 18 months ago. (Kathy Plonka)

Post Falls’ Funk enjoys hammer challenge

Austin Funk has a ball and chain.

No, no, not that kind. The Post Falls senior has fallen in love with the hammer.

A former college hammer thrower and high school coach watched Funk throw the discus at the Idaho state meet two years ago. Funk placed sixth, a respectable finish, with hopes of improving the next two years. But he was surprised when the coach told him he wouldn’t improve much more in the discus. He challenged Funk to try the hammer.

That was all good, but the hammer isn’t an event in Idaho. In Washington it’s been an exhibition event since the mid-1990s.

Funk picked up the hammer about 18 months ago. He fell in love with it immediately. He threw it competitively for the first time this spring at the Mooberry Relays, breaking the meet record set in 2009 by nearly 14 feet with a heave of 188-3. It was 3 inches shy of his personal best.

Each competitor had four throws at Mooberry. The first three for Funk were below par.

“None of them felt good,” Funk said. “I thought I couldn’t go out like this so I stepped up there and really relaxed on my last throw.”

The 5-foot-11, 215-pound Funk is proud of how far he’s come in a short amount of time. He plans to throw at Modesto (Calif.) Junior College.

“The nice thing is you don’t have to be big to throw it,” Funk said.

He’ll also throw the discus at Modesto. He chose the California school because of its coach, Bob MacKay.

“He’s an awesome coach,” Funk said. “I had some offers from some (NCAA) Division I schools, but I’m going to Modesto because MacKay is such a great coach. He sends throwers on to all sorts of big schools. That’s what I want to do.”

Funk, who trains with the Central Valley Track Club, has one more meet in the hammer.

“Then I’ll put it down until summer and focus on the discus,” Funk said. “I used to love the discus more, but now I love the hammer more than anything.”

He wants to win a state title in the discus.

He’s ranked third in 5A with a season best 154-10. He’s personal best came last year at regionals (161-2).

Getting out there

Mead standout shot putter Courtney Hutchinson keeps improving seemingly every meet. She pushed the shot 47-5 Saturday at Mooberry – two weeks after doing 45-1 at a league dual. Her goal of reaching 50 seems attainable.

Hutchinson, a junior, now ranks eighth all time in the state and is just a half inch behind the all-time best throw in Spokane. Lewis and Clark graduate Dori Reeves threw 47-5½ in 1989. The all-time state best is 51-4. Lynette Matthews of Shorecrest posted that mark in 1971.

Hutchinson has the seventh-best throw in the nation. The top mark is 49-10½.

The record needs to be set straight. Hutchinson won a state title as a freshman, not last year, as reported a couple of weeks ago. She was runner-up last spring.

Doing just fine

Over the years, Pullman has had some outstanding athletes. This year is no different.

The Greyhounds girls feature a veteran who continues to improve and a newcomer.

Junior Anna Guo is ranked third in 2A in the long jump (17-6¼) and triple jump (36-¾). She took third at state in the long jump last year and was fourth in the triple.

Freshman Lauren McCluskey is ranked first in the state in the 100 hurdles (15.11) and second in the high jump (5-4), an inch behind leader Jamie Weisner of Clarkston.

Guo wants a pair of state titles.

“I’m pleased so far because I’ve had a couple of meets that were extremely off,” Guo said. “I was getting really panicky, because I wasn’t getting to where I wanted to be. So being able to jump close to my standards is refreshing.”

Guo had the top two marks in both events at the Mooberry Relays. She wants to get the school records in both events – long (18-11¾) and triple (37-11¾).

Finish lines

Track meets generally are full of all sorts of notes. Couple that with some good weather and often things slip past a track writer unnoticed.

Such was the case Saturday at Mooberry when Cheney freshman Katie McGourin had the best time in the 300 hurdles (46.12). She’s ranked third in 2A. She placed sixth the week before at the Pasco Invite.

• The Intermountain League powers continue to dominate. Timberlake’s boys captured a 10th straight league championship and extended their league dual meet winning streak to 42 last week while the Timberlake girls secured a fifth straight league title.

• The Inland Empire League championships are today at Lake City. The meet begins at 2.

• The Greater Spokane League girls dual title could all but be decided today when Mead (5-0) visits favored Central Valley (5-0). The meet, along with all GSL duals, begins at 4.

• Mead boys coach John Mires, after junior Andrew Gardner won the Gerry Lindgren Mile at Mooberry (4:10.10): “That’s going to be so good for his brain.”

• They’re stacked up at 6-2 in the high jump at CV. Five Bears – Phillip Terrell, Max Sykes, Garrett Sawyer, Mark Seely and Danny Cardona – are tied for the team lead.

• Update: Shadle Park’s Kendra Weitz, who collapsed in the 3,200 at the Pasco Invite, visited the doctor last week. He had no immediate explanation as to Weitz’s ailment and further testing to discover why her heart has been spiking will be done, she said. She said she will be sidelined indefinitely.