Pitassi wins state hammer championship

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Triton Pitassi took 2 inches to the bank.

The Camas High School junior captured the Washington State Hammer Throwing Championship, May 27 in Centralia, with a toss of 191 feet, 4 inches. Andy Miller of Capital was hot on his heels with a throw of 191-2.

“I thought I could handle the pressure, but I never expected it to be that close,” Pitassi said. “It helped that one of my first throws was my best throw. As it turned out, there was a 2-inch difference between first and second. I’m glad my throw was long enough.”

Rachel Martschinske finished in fifth place at the girls state hammer meet with a throw of 118-5.

As a tennis player coming into high school, Pitassi has been molded into a powerful hammer thrower with the help of coach Hank Midles.

“He let me hop right in there and throw,” Pitassi said. “Pretty much all of my technique comes from Midles. He’s very good at getting you pumped up. His favorite phrase is ‘compete.’

“If you want to throw far, you have to build that fire,” Pitassi added. “You can’t just go through the motions and expect it to go where you want it to go.”

Pitassi juggled both tennis and track and field during his first two years of high school, but he could never avoid time conflicts. The regional and state tennis tournaments were scheduled in the spring during the same time as track, and so were the practices for both teams.

“It was like trying to be in two places at once,” he said. “I couldn’t just skip out on a practice or a workout because I needed to be in both places. So both areas suffered.”

At the beginning of his junior year, Pitassi put the tennis racket down and focused more on throwing the shot put and the hammer. He noticed the results immediately.

“I had more time, and I wasn’t stressed. That’s the thing I noticed the most this year,” he said. “I could also see it in my throws. In sophomore year, my PR only went up by 8 feet. This year, it went up by 35 feet. I actually got better this season, and did well enough to win.”

Pitassi will have more time to play tennis this summer, but he also has more hammer events to attend.

“My technique is there, but there are always things you can work on,” he said. “What is going to help me is getting in throw, after throw, after throw. That’s what’s going to help me get it all together.”

Swinging a 12-pound medicine ball linked to a chain is not easy. The wind up is awkward and the faster you spin, the harder it is to control. Pitassi loves that challenge and the feeling of accomplishment when it all comes together on one throw.

“The only way to get it farther is to move it faster,” Pitassi said. “It’s just a good feeling when you know you went fast enough, hit everything just right and the throw was perfect.”