Berger, French, Hallberg place at state track championships

South Whidbey High School sophomore Angelina Berger puts the shot at the WIAA 2A track and field championships at Mount Tahoma High School. Berger won fourth place.  - Charles Cortez / Kent Reporter
South Whidbey High School sophomore Angelina Berger puts the shot at the WIAA 2A track and field championships at Mount Tahoma High School. Berger won fourth place.
— image credit: Charles Cortez / Kent Reporter

At this rate, Angelina Berger will break the shot put record early next season.

Except, the record is one she set earlier this season at 38 feet, 5.25 inches.

Berger, a sophomore at South Whidbey, finished fourth in the shot put at the 2A state track and field meet on May 27 at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma. Her coaches suggested for her to focus on her aim, not throwing her farthest.

It worked.

Her mark at 37 feet, 10 inches was the second best throw of the season.

“The key for her at state was her first throw,” said South Whidbey head track- and-field coach Doug Fulton. “That took a lot of pressure off.”

That throw was 7 inches short of her career- and season-best throw of 38 feet,

5.25 inches (which would have tied her for third place).

“It was kind of a surprise, because I was ranked to get, like, eighth [place],” Berger said.

“And I was OK with that. I just wanted to make it into finals, but I didn’t expect to get top five, or four,” she said. “So, I was really happy with that. It was a good feeling.”

Her fourth-place throw also improved last year’s state mark by almost 8 feet. If she finishes next season with an increase of half that (4 feet), and breaks 40 feet, it will be a new South Whidbey record and put her at the top of the 2A shot put rankings. Her shot put goal next season is to throw farther than 40 feet.

Berger glides into her shot put throw, versus spinning into it. Fulton said he had not seen a correlation between farther throws and spinning.

“I’m not a thrower, but I know it’s a tough thing to learn,” Fulton said.

Shreese Daniels, a senior at Steilacoom, won the shot put with a mark of 43 feet, 11 inches. Berger said she saw the importance of strength conditioning from watching Daniels throw.

“She just had a lot of power and aggression toward it,” Berger said. “And I really need to learn how to do that — just put all my aggression toward it.”

Five of the final eight throwers in the shot put were either freshmen or sophomores. Despite the high stakes, Berger stayed calm.

“It was serious, but everyone was kind of chill,” she said.

She felt relaxed during her heats and throws. Part of her zen during the event was dancing, talking to other athletes and focusing on anything except the shot put.

“I wasn’t, like, out there to beat everyone,” Berger said. “I just wanted to throw my PR (personal record) and end the season well. So, I wasn’t really stressed.”

“I knew there were some really good girls out there, but I’m good, too,” Berger said.

She learned she finished in fourth place after the finals heat in the shot put.

“It was kind of a shock,” Berger said. “I was like, ‘Well, I did it.’ I was pretty happy.”

Nick French, a freshman, threw the javelin 160 feet, 11 inches for sixth place. That was only 6 inches short of his career-best throw at the District 1 meet, and only 4 inches short of placing fifth. French was the only freshman in the 2A javelin, and the fourth-best freshman javelin thrower in all classifications.

Nick French prepares to release the javelin at the 2A state track and field championships. Photo by Dori Hallberg

Fulton said he didn’t know where French’s ceiling will be in the years to come.

“He might have his eye on that [the South Whidbey javelin record held by Tom Kramer],” Fulton said.

Will Hallberg finished seventh in the long jump at 21 feet. Cascade Conference rival Andre Scott of Lakewood won the event with a jump of 22 feet, 5.75 inches.

Hallberg’s top rival, PJ Benedictus of Renton, finished in second place at 21 feet, 10.75 inches. Hallberg was unable to compete in the triple jump, which he won in 2010, after injuring his hamstring. Benedictus won the triple jump at 47 feet, 3.75 inches — more than three feet farther than the second-place jump of 44 feet, 2.5 inches.

“Triple jump is pretty ballistic, so jumping on a weak leg makes it almost impossible,” Fulton said.

“We kind of looked at the big picture, in his future in jumping,” Fulton added.

South Whidbey boys finished 35th overall and the girls team finished 31st.

For a PDF of the complete results at the 2A, 3A and 4A meets, visit this link.


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