COLUMBIA — They call her Tomb Raider.
Junior thrower Sarah Hall possesses strength her teammates on the Hickman track and field team like to compare to that of the fictional character Lara Croft. She benches 160 pounds when lifting weights, something the freshman football team envies.
Like Croft, Hall wears a braid in her hair. Hall pulls her long hair back in a braid just before practice. It’s part of her routine that lets all of the other throwers know it’s game time.
“One time when I was throwing the discus, I actually hit myself in the face with my braid,” Hall said. “I was spinning and my braid whipped around, hitting me under the eye and left a small bruise.”
While throwing practice is tough and tiring, Hall knows how to balance hard work with a sense of humor to keep everyone motivated.
“I like to entertain people,” Hall said. “Sometimes I make myself look stupid to make people laugh. I just like to joke around.”
She served up some smiles in practice when she accidentally threw her discus too early and it pulled down the corner of the netting around the throwing pit.
Several more laughs broke out when Hall warned a teammate to clear the field, and as she did so her discus landed within feet of him. She laughed afterward that every time someone stands in the field she comes close to hitting them.
And when she spins before launching the shot put, her teammates laugh and know to take a few steps back, some even hide behind their braver teammates with grins on their faces. Once she tried spinning as she threw the shot put from the top of the hill the throwing pit rests on, and it rolled down, nearly missing a drain.
Don’t let these silly mishaps mislead you. Hall broke both the Hickman shot put and discus records last season. She reset the school record in the shot put with a distance close to 41 feet, 7 inches. At the Missouri Invitational, the first meet of this season, she broke the school record she set in the shot put.
“I came to Hickman and planned by senior year to break the record, but I didn’t plan on breaking it by my sophomore year,” Hall said. “I set goals for myself and kept reaching them faster than I thought I would. My next goal is to keep breaking records.”
Hall embodies the dedication coaches hope to find in their athletes. After missing a weight lifting session during a practice she couldn’t attend, Hall asked throws coach Chad Masters if she could make it up.
“She gets better every time she throws,” Masters said. “She is a really coachable, positive person with a great attitude.”
At last weekend's Capital City Relays in Jefferson City, Hall won the shot put with a mark of 42-1 and the discus at 120-3. Her goal for this season is to win the shot put at the state meet. As a sophomore last season, Hall finished fifth in state in the shot put with a mark of 41-3. She qualified for the discus as well last season, landing in 15th at the state meet. But this season, she hopes to place.
Hall picked up track after her dad, the Oakland Junior High coach, encouraged her to join the team. When she was in sixth grade, she used to go to the practices her dad coached and threw with eighth and ninth graders, beating most of their marks.
“It’s a good situation as a coach to be around an athlete of that caliber,” Masters said. “She’s at the level where she can compete with anyone in the state.”