Stanford's Hammar makes an impact in the women's discus


Stanford's Rebecca Hammar set a personal best of 182-7 to finish third in a stacked women's discus field at the 40th Stanford Invitational track and field meet and highlight Stanford's performances on Saturday.

Also, on the final day of the two-day competition at Cobb Track and Angell Field, one more meet record fell -- the fourth of the competition. Maggie Vessey, who ran in the Stanford Invitational while at Soquel High near Santa Cruz in the mid-1990s, knocked off the women's 800-meter record that she narrowly missed last year.

Vessey ran 2:01.58 while wearing one of the stylish outfits that she helps design and afterward gave an emotional hug to her coach Greg Brock, a Stanford All-America distance runner in the late 1960s, leaving them both in tears. The meet record of 2:03.02 by BYU's Nachelle Mackie had stood for three years.

Vessey's time ranks No. 2 in the world behind Chanelle Price of the USA. Price clocked 2:00.62 on April 3.

The meet, attended by Stanford's 2013 NCAA champion 400 hurdler Kori Carter and football coach David Shaw among others, drew more than 3,200 athletes ranging from toddlers in the Lori Maynard Kids Half Lapper to high schoolers and collegians to Olympic medalists like Shalane Flanagan, who raced in the women's 10,000 on Friday night.

For Hammar, she had thrown well in practice and in early season meets. She took another big step on her second throw, which got out to 179-10, one inch from a personal record. The big throw calmed her.

"It's always nice to know that you're going to make the finals and get three more throws," said Hammar, a senior from Atwater, California. "It makes it feel like practice. I'd thrown pretty well in practice and I knew that if I threw like it was practice, I'd get a PR."

On her fifth attempt, she got it. She knew it wouldn't be enough to catch winner Shelbi Vaughan, Texas A&M's defending NCAA champion (194-2), but it was something of a milestone for Hammar.

"Whenever you make the jump into a new group of 10s -- like 160 or 170 -- it's like being in a new club. It was a monkey off my back.

"This is how I expected the season to go last year and I kind of hit a rough patch. It's good to get this steady progression, and now that I'm a senior, a lot of the nerves are off for me. I know it's not the end of the world if I don't perform, but I know how good it feels to perform too."

Stanford now has a pair of 180-foot throwers, along with sophomore Valarie Allman, the world junior runner-up last year. Allman uncorked a throw of 175-8 on her first throw, but didn't get the big improvement she was looking for Saturday and was fourth at 177-6.

An intriguing side story to the meet for Stanford was the collegiate debut of Isaiah Brandt-Sims. A two-sport athlete, the freshman redshirted during the football season as a receiver, but has always envisioned himself as a track athlete, as well.

Brandt-Sims arrived as one of Washington's greatest sprinters ever. He was the first to win both the 100 and 200 all four years at the state meet in the state's highest classification (4A). Brandt-Sims rolled to third place in the third section of the 200 in 21.52 and sixth overall out of 36 total competitors. It was Stanford's fastest 200 since 2012.

Brandt-Sims said he has been training with the track team full-time since January and not participating in spring practice with football.

"Track makes me a better football player," Brandt-Sims said.

Though Stanford rested several athletes this weekend, the Cardinal will be at full strength next Saturday, April 11, for the 121st Big Meet against visiting Cal. Events begin at 3 p.m.

High schools

Gunn junior Maya Miklos ran a personal best of 56.16 while finishing third overall in the girls' 400 meters on Saturday to highlight local efforts.

The time by Miklos improves her already No. 2 all-time mark at Gunn and ranks her No. 7 in the state.

In the girls' mile, Gunn junior Gillian Meeks was fifth in a personal-best 4:58.54, ranking her No. 6 in the state and No. 16 in the nation. Her time converts to a 4:56.81, keeping her No. 4 all-time in Gunn history.

Kathryn Mohr of Menlo-Atherton clearned 10-11 3/4 for seventh in the girls' pole vault and M-A teammate Annalisa Crowe was ninth in the 800 in 2:16.21. The M-A 1,600 relay team of Annie Harrier, Miranda Simes, Cat DePuy and Crowe was eighth overall in 4:06.31.

In the boys' events, M-A's Adam Scandlyn was 11th in the mile in 4:21.71 and Priory's Ross Corey was 20th in the 800 in 1:58.50. Corey ran in the fast heat, which saw Connor Ross of McQuenn (Nev.) run a national-leading outdoor time of 1:50.75.

— Stanford Athletics

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