During the NPSL track and field championships, the competitors gathered around the shot put field to watch each other throw and see where they rank.
Everybody, save one thrower: Ginny Mehl of Tahoma High School.
Mehl, a senior, was off to the side practicing her throwing motion and timing for when it would be her turn to hurl the weighted ball. And when her name was called, Mehl tossed the shot an even 43 feet, more than 3 feet farther than her nearest competitor.
“In throwing, I like to go off to the side and get into the zone,” she said. “I visualize my next throw and what I am going to work on. I’ll run around and do jumping jacks to keep warm and get my heart rate up. I feel that I throw my best when my heart rate is up.”
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She would go on to win the league title in the shot put, discus and javelin that day, earning the Female Field Athlete of the Year for the NPSL in the process.
As much success as she is enjoying now in track, it was not always the sport she was the most passionate about growing up.
Mehl started her athletic career at a young age when she played club soccer. She liked the sport and decided to continue playing multiple sports in order to keep her body healthy.
She’s a 12-time letter winner — playing four years of volleyball, four years of basketball and now four years of track and field. And she does all three of the throwing events (shot put, discus and javelin) and all well — being the only athlete to place in the top three in each event at the 4A state championships last year.
“I think it’s better for my muscles. Rather than just focusing on one sport, I am working on multiple and working different muscles,” she said.
Early on in her life, Mehl had dreams of becoming a professional soccer ‘star.’ But when she hit junior high, her interests began to change.
“I found track then,” she said. “I was a distance runner, running the 800, 400 and 4-by-(400 relay). I found throwing to be way more fun once I entered high school.”
It shows. Mehl has had tremendous success in the throwing events, and she has improved each year she’s participated.
“When you typically see incredible athletes who go on to play D1 sports, you see them right away,” said Tahoma girls track coach Jeff Brady. “She was noticed by coach Keith Eager as he said ‘She’s got something special here.’ ”
Beginning in her freshman year, she made it to subdistricts and the 4A West Central District meet. She won the shot put at state as a sophomore and came in the top three of the discus, javelin and shot put her junior year as well.
But the pressure to win another state championship still weighed on her.
This year, Mehl continued to dominate the throwing events but feels the same pressures as she did in her junior year.
“She’s a super solid competitor,” Brady said. “Last year, she had that pressure on her. Hopefully this year, she can relax out there and has fun this year.”
The West Central/Southwest District begins Friday at French Field, where Mehl will attempt to qualify for state.
And this year, why not gun for it all?
“It would mean a lot to win all three events,” Mehl said. “It would mean my hard work and my coaches hard work will have paid off. It would be awesome.”