Winner's Shawn Hammerbeck surges to Class A boys discus title

May 23—SIOUX FALLS — Shawn Hammerbeck came into Thursday's Class A boys discus competition as the No. 4 seed but feeling he had nothing to lose.

The Winner High School junior exited atop the podium as a state champion.

"I thought I might have a chance, but I didn't expect this, to be honest," Hammerbeck said. "I'm just all smiles."

On his first throw of the competition, Hammerbeck established the mark to beat at 160 feet, 4 inches, a distance which carried him into the finals still in pole position.

"I was a little bit nervous, but then I realized that I didn't have anything to lose," Hammerbeck said. "I thought, 'Hey, might as well throw a good one (with the first attempt), and that's what I did."

The initial mark stood up all the way through until Hammerbeck's final throw, a stress-free heave knowing he'd already locked up the title.

"It was just a relief," Hammerbeck said. "I didn't have to try to throw further than anyone; I just wanted to go out with my best effort."

The product was the official winning mark of 163 feet, 3 inches, a personal best by more than 7 feet. Hammerbeck bested second-place Paul Hoekman, the No. 1 seed entering the competition from Sioux Falls Christian, whose best offering was 157 feet, 1 inch.

Hanson's Brock Tuttle took third place with a throw of 147 feet, 5 inches, edging out Sioux Falls Christian's Elijah Mulder (147-1). Deuel's Robert Begalka (145-2), Webster Area's Matthew Mount (143-10), Sioux Falls Christian's Nick Popkes (142-7) and Chamberlain's Canyon Burkard (140-3) rounded out the top eight podium placements.

A state championship capped a sizable late-season surge for Hammerbeck, who set a new discus personal record in five of the final six meets he attended this spring. Prior to the Dakota Relays earlier this month, Hammerbeck had never reached 150 feet, with a personal best of 145-6 coming into the final month of the season.

"Once I hit that 150 (feet) mark, everything kind of clicked," Hammerbeck said. "I came in with a lot of confidence and everything just worked out."