Alexa Hunt: Riding “Sea Biscuit” to Victory at State Track Meet
A caricature of a shot putter would probably emphasize brutish strength. Let’s face it, manually launching hand-held cannonballs far enough to be competitive in such an event is not for the dainty.
Alexa Hunt of Roosevelt High School doesn’t exactly fit the stereotype. Oh, she has a game face! And she’s also got the goods in terms of raw strength coupled with technique. But otherwise she’s more playful than a brute. And now, in addition to being a Drake Relays champion, Alexa is a state champ. On Friday afternoon she flung “Sea Biscuit,” her favorite shot, far enough to outdistance the field in the girls’ state meet at Drake Stadium and afterwards she was sporting a grin about as wide as her winning toss was long.
Alexa is a junior who’s been competing in the shot put since 7th grade. When she first got interested in track and field she wanted to be a pole vaulter. Now she chuckles at that memory and has her sights set on defending her shot-putting crown next year by adding some additional “oomph.” That term makes her chuckle, too. But she’s all business during competition.
Shot putting is like a very brief ballet in a space about the size of a phone booth that culminates with the firing of short-range artillery. Gathering one’s strength in the very confined space of the toss ring before uncoiling and launching without losing balance and fouling requires nimbleness. Alexa’s pre-toss routine produced line drives compared to the fly balls being lofted by her competition on Friday. There was a breeze at the putters’ backs that would have favored a baseball but was inconsequential to airborne eight-pound marbles. “I usually have more of an arc on my throws,” Alexa said with a grin. “I can work on that.”
Competitors carry their equipment about in shot purse/pouches like archers carry quivers of arrows. Following each toss an official collects the shot and deposits it on a flume that rolls it back like a ball return at a bowling alley where it plops into a collection area and sits until its next flight; just another one among a basket of leaden eggs. Their circumference and color varies but the weight is constant. There was an assortment in play Friday that included black, gold, red, blue and metallic drab. And then there was the polished, silvery Sea Biscuit that Alexa rode to victory, outshining them all.
Her winning toss was 42’4 ½ “. Her personal best is 44’10”. The state record is about 53’. That’s Alexa’s goal for next year and that’s where the extra “oomph” comes in. Between them, Alexa thinks she and Sea Biscuit have what it will take.
Besides Alexa’s title, Roosevelt senior Emma Huston went out in style by winning the girls’ 1500 meter run. Those two wins highlighted Roosevelt’s sixth-place finish in the girls’ team standings that was accomplished despite the loss of star senior sprinter Erin Hawkins to injury. Hawkins was named the 2012 Drake Relays Girls’ Athlete of the Year during ceremonies at the state meet on Saturday. Ironically, it was during that meet in April when she felt the pop in her knee while warming up that was later diagnosed as a torn anterior cruciate ligament and a ruptured meniscus. She will have surgery later this month before rehabbing and continuing her track career on scholarship at the University of Minnesota.