Lena Giger, a Highland native, capped off her phenomenal freshman season at Stanford University by garnering a silver medal in the hammer throw while representing Team USA last Friday at the 2015 Pan American Junior Track and Field Championships in Edmonton, Canada.
And to make her accomplishment even more sterling and special, Giger’s final throw of 190 feet, 3 inches (57.99 meters) shattered her own Stanford University freshman record of 188-3 that she set this past spring in her collegiate debut. It also ranks fifth on the school’s all-time list for the hammer throw.
“I am very pleased with the conclusion of my freshman season and I couldn’t have been happier after today’s competition,” Giger said. “It was incredible to represent Team USA again, and it felt even better standing up on the podium. This meet was definitely one that I’ll remember and I couldn’t be happier with my silver medal and personal best.”
After qualifying for Team USA for the Pan Am Junior Championships at the U.S. Outdoor Junior Nationals June 26 at TrackTown USA at historic Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon, the 2014 co-valedictorian of Highland High School headed back to Stanford for a few more weeks of training.
“I would say that those two and half weeks were the key to my PR of 57.99 meter,” Giger said. “Practices have been solid lately and I’ve grown a lot more confident in my technique.”
Giger flew up to Canada with Team USA on Tuesday, July 28, so they had a few days to settle in and prepare for the meet. Going into the competition on Saturday morning, the three-time Illinois High School Association Class 2A state champion felt confident that she could fight for a spot on the podium.
However, her first two throws were sector fouls, so she needed one fair throw that was at least 54 meters to qualify for the finals.
“I always have this little fear of fouling out, so I became pretty nervous, pretty quickly,” Giger said. “Going into my third throw, I knew what I needed to work on and I had to stay relaxed. The throw wasn’t necessarily great, but it was enough to put me through to finals.”
Giger’s third throw stayed in the sector and traveled 178-3, enough to squeeze into sixth place and earn three more throws for the final.
Before that throw, Giger received some much-needed reassurance from Stanford associate head coach for throws Michelle Eisenreich.
“She was a huge help with getting me to calm down mentally, as well as helping figure out what to fix technically,” Giger said.
At that point, Giger felt she could be aggressive.
“Once I threw a fair throw and made finals, I knew that I just had to go for it. My body knew what it needed to do. I just had to get out of my own way.”
Giger’s fourth throw was a foot foul, but she said it felt good technically. Then, she unleashed a personal-record of 190-1 on her fifth to break her own Stanford freshman record and climb the ladder from sixth place into the silver-medal position.
Her final throw was eclipsed her fifth throw by two inches and also placed Giger No. 5 on Stanford’s all-time performers’ list.
“I believe I was sitting in sixth until my fifth throw, when I threw my first PR (personal record) of 57.95 meters,” she said. “After that throw, I moved into second, and was ready for my final throw of the season. I ended up throwing 57.99 meters, which also is an extension of my previously held freshman record.
“I’m super excited with my performance. I’m looking forward to begin training for next season.”