At the Eason Invitational, Fong threw the hammer 177 feet, 7 inches to win the event and set a Washington state record.
Karl Maw didn’t know what to expect.
As Kentlake’s thrower’s coach for the track and field team, he knows senior Jordan Fong’s talent at javelin, discus and shot put. And he also knows Fong throwing the hammer is her gift.
The hammer throw isn’t a sanctioned Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) track event, however. Fong’s introduction was as a club sport after her freshman year, participating in hammer-only meets about six times during the high-school season.
Maw and Falcons teammates hadn’t seen Fong throw. On Friday, a few made the drive to Snohomish for the Eason Invitational to check her out for the first time.
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“It felt like you were going to the hammer family reunion,” said Maw of the approximate 70 spectators and competitors at Veterans Memorial Stadium. “It was very exciting to see her. She’s really strong right now — we lift three days a week — and Jordan was just in her element.”
Fong threw the hammer 177 feet, 7 inches to win the event and set a Washington state record. It places her second in the nation, surpassing her personal best of 167-1 set in June 2017.
Shelby Morgan of Sherwood High in Oregon has the best hammer throw of the season at 191-9.
“I just felt it,” Fong said of the record-breaking throw. “It just all came together and when I watched my film later I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, that was a good throw.’ ”
The atmosphere at the Eason Invitational was rare for Fong. The majority of the meets are small because few athletes are willing to participate in an event that’s more of a club sport. Practice also has a solitary feel. Fong travels to West Seattle Stadium to train with former Nathan Hale coach Howie Kellogg on Sunday mornings. Others cross the mountain pass to make the sessions.
But Fong likes the peace so she can concentrate on the multiple technical aspects in order to execute the perfect throw. Kellogg said her ability to compete with herself is how she became one of the nation’s best.
“And I like throwing things,” she quipped. “I really like the idea of still being on a team but having to rely on yourself entirely. You have to beat yourself and better your marks. Focusing is the fun part.”
The attention to detail helped Fong place fourth in javelin (129-4) and shot put (40-6) at the Class 4A state meet last year. The switch to lifting more and practicing her throws less leading into her senior year has Fong and coaches believing she can win state titles in those events.
Fong is third in the state in discus (142-4) and ninth in shot put (40-5).
“She’s does really well in those other events and the thing about her is she’s a good athlete,” said Kellogg of Fong, who played volleyball and ran relays as an underclassman. “But for the discus, she could be taller and in shot put, it’s best to be bigger. Javelin athletes come in all sizes, but Jordan is perfectly built for hammer. And she’s so coachable. The biggest thing is she loves it.”
Fong accepted an athletic scholarship to throw the hammer for Stanford. She emailed the program on a whim last spring about joining the team, not thinking she’d be accepted despite her perfect GPA and campus involvement as student-body president.
It took less than 24 hours for the Cardinal to respond. Fong’s distances rank second to Stanford’s best thrower this season.
“I never thought I’d be going to college for it,” said Fong, who plans to major in engineering like her father. “It just ended up being that track is my calling.”