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).