Sometimes it’s about learning from the best.
For all of the Class 5A state track and field meet medals Alex Hartig won during her star-studded career, she hearkens back to her freshman year at Great Bend High School as a defining moment.
Hartig, a redshirt freshman at Arizona State, went head-to-head every day in practice her first year at GBHS with then-senior Larissa Richards, the school-record holder in the shot put (46 feet, seven inches).
“She was a senior when I was a freshman,” Hartig said of Richards, who is an NCAA Division-II All-American in the throws at Pittsburg State University, where she is also a basketball post player. “She’s 6-foot-3 and she’s a big girl. She was a great teammate. I had never beaten her before and at the state meet, I came out beat her in the shot (at Cessna Stadium in Wichita).
“The next day, she came out and got me in the discus. We went 1-2 in both at the state meet. That’s the year we won the state championship as a team (2007). I set the state-meet record in the shot put (46-5), but I don’t have the school record.”
One of the greatest throwers in GBHS history had been born. By the time she graduated, Hartig was a four-time state champion in the shot and had a three-peat in the discus, along with the school record (157-5).
“All season we were competing and she always got the best of me and then finally at the state meet, things came together for me and it worked out,” said Hartig, who is currently visiting Great Bend before heading back to Tempe, Ariz., where she has four years of track eligibility remaining.
“Practice was tough every day and Cliff Burt worked with both of us (including Richards). I had Burt all four years and I wouldn’t be where I am today without him. You have to compete, and I have to compete to win because it’s expected. The coaches expected it and I expected it myself, so I had to go out and learn to compete every meet.”
Hartig chose ASU over the likes of powerhouses Louisiana State, Penn State, UCLA, Stanford and Oklahoma.
“I can’t imagine being anywhere else and so I think that’s what counts,” said Hartig, who is majoring in accounting. “(Her redshirt season), it was tough and it was just a whole another mind-set.
“In high school, I also on ran the 4x400 relay. It was tough adjusting to being just a thrower and I learned so much this year.”
Besides the shot put and discus, Hartig also has taken on a new event in the hammer throw under ASU throw coach David Dumble.
“He’s a great guy and he knows everything when it comes to throws,” Hartig said of Dumble. “I’ve learned so much and technically, he’s changed a lot of things and I think it’s for the best.
“I had never picked up a hammer until I got to ASU, so that is a completely new and neat experience. It’s more about rhythm than the other throws and you have to learn to trust the hammer and things like that.”
While enduring her redshirt season, Hartig also competed in some meets unattached for the Sun Devils.