Hagan throws big for the Packers

Published 9:34 am Saturday, May 28, 2011

Andrew Hagan is making new strides with his throwing in a constant effort to make himself better. - Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

As Austin’s top discus and shot put thrower prepares for this year’s Section 1AA track and field meet, which takes place June 2 and June 4 in Lakeville, he’s keeping his expectations realistic.

He’d like to reach the finals, but knows he’d have to hit career best marks to do so.

This may be the last year that Andrew Hagan, a freshman, is an underdog entering the section meet.

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Despite being young, Hagan has shown a lot of potential to compete for a state trip in the not too distant future.

“I told him he has the option of being the best in Austin, the best in the Big Nine or the best in the state,” Austin’s throwers coach Randy Smith said. “He’s got the potential to be all three. He’s very strong for a ninth grader and we’ve got three years to work with him. He can go as far as he wants to.”

Austin's Andrew Hagan throws the shot during a home meet earlier this month. - Herald file photo

After shaking off a knee injury that caused him a lot of pain earlier this season, Hagan has started to find his stride. He’s added five feet from his best shot put throw of last summer, despite throwing a ball that’s four pounds heavier, and he’s added nine feet to his best discus throw from last summer, despite using a disc that is larger.

Hagan, who has thrown the shot put 44 feet and the discus 129 feet this spring, missed last track season with an injury but he hit plenty of throwing camps over the summer. This season has been an awakening experience as he’s gone against some solid throwers in the Big Nine, including athletes from Owatonna and Albert Lea who throw the shot put as far as 58 feet and the discus in the 160s.

“It’s been interesting,” Hagan said of competing against upperclassmen. “They see me and they’re like ‘I wish I could be that big.’ But you can tell that it’s a lot of work to go into throwing, you can’t just try it once and all of the sudden throw 50 feet.”

While Hagan, who played varsity football as a freshman, is probably one of the bigger throwers around, it’s actually his form that has led to a lot of his improvements.

“His form has gotten so much better as his knee gets better,” Smith said. “Strength is important in shot and discus, but form is more important and that’s where he’s really improved.”

Hagan has had plenty of help this season as well. He credits Smith and Austin head coach Tony Einertson as well as his throwing teammate Thomas Herrera, a senior.

Hagan may out-throw Herrera at most meets, but he’s also picked up plenty of pointers from the veteran.

“He’s been a tremendous help to me,” Hagan said. “Last week I was kind of going downhill on my throws and he took me aside showed me what to do along with coach Smith. Then I was back up to 44 feet.”

While Hagan is learning new forms of throwing at the varsity level, he’s also learning to a little humility.

“I learned that it’s a lot of work. Everything’s brand new, just like sixth grade. You’ve got to learn everything over again,” Hagan said. “(Being on varsity) is a good experience. I’m just going out there and trying to get my personal best and I’m not trying to win anything. It would be nice to do pretty good at sections.”

Smith said that Hagan knows very well how hard he’ll have to work to reach his full potential in the coming years.

“He sees the competition here in Austin and he thinks he’s pretty good,” Smith said. “We went up to Rosemount (for a meet) and he kind of looked around and said ‘wow these guys are as big as I am.’ I think that made him say ‘maybe I’m not that good yet, and I’ve got a ways to go.’”