Camas athlete taking a shot at one sport

Former tennis star focuses on track and field

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

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Even overachievers need to simplify things from time to time.

Triton Pitassi had taken on just a little too much in his first couple of years of high school. So he gave up one passion in order to excel in another.

This spring, Pitassi, a junior at Camas, is confident he will make it to the state track and field meet in shot put for the first time, possibly even medal.

He also is ranked No. 2 in Washington in the hammer throw, an event not sanctioned by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association but still with its own independent state championship.

Pitassi will not, however, be competing in bi-district and state tennis tournaments.

One of the top tennis players in the region as a freshman and a sophomore, Pitassi said no to high school tennis for his junior year due to time conflicts.

Southwest Washington’s regular season for boys tennis is in the fall, while the bi-district and state championships are in the spring -- coinciding with track and field.

So those first two years, Pitassi practiced both sports in the spring. It turned out, when he was on the court, he worried if he should be out on the field. And when he was throwing, he wondered if he should be concentrating more on serves and backhands. Both of his sports suffered

“It was really stressful,” Pitassi said. “It was just too much. I had to pick one.”

It was track and field’s gain.

Pitassi did not qualify for the district meet last year in the shot put.

This season, he is ranked second in the 3A Greater St. Helens League and 10th among all 3A throwers in the state.

Pitassi is a 4.0 student who loves science and math, but it does not take an A student to figure out how Pitassi progressed from an also-ran to a state contender: Focus and training.

He has put his body, soul, and mind into throwing heavy objects.

“All the offseason work (with the hammer) helped me in track, in general,” Pitassi said. “It’s been really helpful with shot. It’s not completely related, but I spin in the shot. The techniques kind of match up a little bit.”

Plus, he no longer is stressing about any other sport. He misses tennis “absolutely,” and even wishes he played it a bit more over the winter because tennis is a cross-training sport.

“Quick feet on the court means quick feet in shot put,” he said.

But he has no regrets.

“I made the right decision,” Pitassi said. “I don’t feel as stressed about what I’m going to do, how I’m going to perform. I’ve been able to let it go and have fun. When it’s time for track, it’s just track.”

Of course, he has plenty of other sources of stress in his life. The good kind of stress, such as the pressure to maintain that grade-point average while taking four Advanced Placement courses -- chemistry, U.S. history, English, calculus.

If that were not enough, he also joined the Science Olympiad program.

That, too, almost interfered with athletics.

“The end of Science Olympian overlaps with the beginning and middle of track. I had to figure a way to fit it all in,” he said.

It is a demanding lifestyle, but Pitassi often uses the word “fun” when describing his workload.

“I was always pretty natural at math, but over time, science just became more fun,” he said. “You get to figure out why. Why did that thing turn blue instead of green? It’s more exciting with science.”

Yet, he also could not narrow down his classes to one favorite. He is psyched about learning, trying new things.

Which might explain his success in the hammer throw. He said it looked like, yep, fun, so he asked if he could try when he was an eighth-grader.

“When I stand next to the other guys, I feel very small,” said Pitassi, who is 5-10, 245 pounds. “In the hammer, I’ve been able to show I don’t have to be the tall, buff kid to throw far. It’s nice to show that. Also, it’s fun to spin.”

The state hammer championships are usually the day after the WIAA track and field championships. Pitassi is hoping to be at both.

“I’m not going to be cocky, but if I get a reasonable throw in, I should easily get into regionals,” Pitassi said of the shot put. “And I’m pretty confident I can make it past regionals and into state.”

If things go just perfectly for him that weekend later in May, he could medal or even finish first in one or the other, maybe both. So what is his preference?

“I love both the shot and the hammer. But the hammer, there’s something about it that is just more fun,” he said.

Then again, if he wins the shot put, he will be representing Camas High School in a WIAA sanctioned event.

Fortunately for Pitassi, he does not have a to make a tough decision here.

It’s all stress-free now. Just use the technique, make the mark, and see where that lands him.