Sudbeck defends state title

CHS senior will throw the hammer for the University of Hawaii

After defending her hammer state championship, Haleigh Sudbeck is ready to say goodbye to Camas and aloha to Hawaii.

“It’s a big step moving to an island away from home, but I’m ready for this,” Sudbeck said. “I’m going to miss Camas so much. It’s just an amazing place with a wonderful community.”

The Camas High School senior defeated 20 competitors at the Washington State Hammer Championships May 29, in Centralia. She will graduate Friday and attend the University of Hawaii in the fall.

Sudbeck thanked her coach, Hank Midles, for being with her every step of the way. She wanted to win another state title for her coach, and then go off to college and make him proud.

“Coach Midles made me believe I could do this,” Sudbeck said. “He always says the right thing at the right time to calm my nerves. He’s one of the loudest voices in the crowd. You can always hear him rooting for you.”

The best throw for Sudbeck came on her second to last attempt. It was her longest throw of the season, and it came at just the right time.

“It was just a very nice, clean, fast throw. A good one to hang my high school career on,” she said. “It was quite nice to stand on top of the podium surrounded by good friends. We have all been doing this together for years.”

Six other Camas athletes competed at the state hammer meet. Maggie Wells grabbed 10th place for the girls with a throw of 102-6, Morgan Kielty earned 11th place (100-1) and Riley Kankelberg took 18th place (77-0). Mason Ellis claimed 10th place for the boys with a toss of 138-8, Caleb Eldred notched 19th place (116-2) and Matt Hansen took 21st place (87-1).

Sudbeack was grateful for all the college choices she had. It came down to the University of Washington, Washington State, Oregon State and Hawaii.

“I loved all the schools and people I got to meet. Hawaii is definitely the best place for me to go,” Sudbeck said. “It’s not as big as the other schools, the weather is nice and warm, and they have a good graphic design program I want to get into.”

She knows throwing the hammer in college will take even more commitment. She will have to try and ignore those pleas from the ocean.

“Thankfully, the beach is a couple miles away from the campus,” Sudbeck said. “This is going to be my job for the next four years. I have no problem with that. It’s a sport that I love.”

Sudbeck started throwing the hammer in eighth grade, while watching her older brother Chip compete for the high school. She said it taught her about time management. It also gave her the confidence to pursue her dreams.

“I did it because it looked like fun. I never thought it would get me this far,” Sudbeck said. “I just fell in love with it. That love carried me through the hard days, bad practices and bad meets.”