Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Verhamme breaks personal record at state competition


June 20, 2019

Fifteen-year-old Wesley Verhamme was the only Haines althete to compete in the Brian Young Invitationals in Anchorage from May 31 to June 1, a competition between the top 16 high school track and field athletes in the state.

“I was nervous about competing against the top of the top. But I kind of came to the realization that I’m here for a reason. I’m here because they chose me,” said Verhamme.

Verhamme said he exceeded his own expectations, breaking his personal record in shot put, throwing 46 ft. 3.5 in. to take fourth place. In discus, Verhamme ranked seventh, throwing 118 ft. 11 in.

Verhamme said he thought he would be wearing his own uniform at the competition and “competing as a Haines person,” but he was surprised when he and the other athletes were divided into three teams: Cook Inlet, Southcentral, and North Southeast. “I was part of the North Southeast team with people from Fairbanks, Ketchikan, and Juneau,” said Verhamme.

He said he just tried to ignore the other athletes and warm up like usual, to calm his nerves. “I was just worried. The guy who beat me at state was there. He beat me at state, so my whole goal was to try to beat him, and try to (break my personal record). I came to the realization when he was walking into the ring that it didn’t matter. It was just for fun,” he said.

Verhamme said it struck him—this was his last chance (this season) to beat himself. “This meet doesn’t really mean anything. It’s just another chance to get a personal record. I went in, took a deep breath, and I threw,” he said.

His throw was almost nine inches farther than his previous personal best. “It kind of felt like all the work and all the hard hours, putting in 50-plus throws a day, the days when I couldn’t really get the form right for some reason, it felt like all those days kind of came together and made something out of it,” said Verhamme.

Since invitationals, Verhamme has been halibut fishing near Hoonah. “It gives me plenty of time to think, plenty of time to sit back and reflect on the year,” he said.

Still, Verhamme said he remains focused on his athleticism in his free time, writing lists of workouts he will do after he gets back to Haines next week.


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