Oakdale High School’s Hannah Chappell, a sophomore, gave the Mustangs their best CIF State Meet finish when she took second in the discus competition. For her efforts this month, and in the spring, she was named The Bee’s Female Track Athlete of the Year.
Inside the ring: Chappell, barely halfway through her high school years, already has earned two Sac-Joaquin Section Masters discus titles and – earlier this month – a runner-up medal at the CIF State Track and Field Championships in Clovis. It’s the highest finish by any Oakdale track athlete and, by the way, one she expects to improve on before she receives her diploma. Chappell displayed her competitive toughness in the state finals when she improved from sixth to fifth to third and, on her final attempt, a heave of 147 feet, 11 inches for second. “I was just trying to beat the people who weren’t going to win,” she said. The only athlete to beat her was favored Dos Pueblos graduate Stamatia Scarvelis, the UCLA-bound star who also won the shot put. Chappell’s season shines even brighter given the fact she dodged shoulder and ankle injuries that left her on crutches for a week and curtailed her training and lifting. Nevertheless, she won five major meets, including Sacramento’s Meet of Champions and Stanford. Her personal best of 149-6 for third place against national competition at Arcadia encouraged her. At the state finals, she was not distracted by a poor warmup. “I’m still kind of soaking it all in and appreciating what I’ve done,” she said.
Outside the ring: Chappell feels her extensive experience as a softball pitcher, from second grade through eighth, sharpened her competitive instincts for the discus. During that time, she often watched the Oakdale track team practice and stayed close to her father, Brett Chappell, the Mustangs’ longtime throws coach. Brett, a former hammer thrower at Fresno State who was coached at Ukiah High by a former state champion in Bill Hook, became her daughter’s coach after an unsuccessful softball tournament when she was 14. “When we got back to the truck, we already had decided (softball) was over. We ordered the discus shoes the next day,” Chappell said. Also helping her along the way Suzy Powell-Roos, the Downey High graduate and three-time Olympic discus qualifier. Chappell remains active this summer in volleyball, her second sport at Oakdale.
What’s ahead: Many observers think a state title looms in Chappell’s future. To her credit, she doesn’t appear to be intimidated by the lofty expectations. Another plus is her growing passion for her favorite event. “It’s something that I do for myself, not for other people,” she said. Chappell’s goal of a state championship can be attained if she avoids serious injuries. “Now that I’m finally healthy, I can do more lifting and increase my base strength so that I can win,” she said.
Quotable: “(The discus) is unique. No one really does it. It’s cool to do something a lot of people don’t do.”
– Ron Agostini