Last summer, Union High School junior Ariel Ammentorp attended a club track and field meet where 2020 Ridgefield graduate Trey Knight was competing in the hammer throw.
He set the national high school record in the hammer throw earlier that summer and Ammentorp wanted to witness the future USC athlete compete firsthand. She didn’t realize Knight’s premier event would captivate her the way it did.
After watching Knight throw the hammer, Ammentorp was hooked. The next day she was at practice trying the hammer throw for the first time.
“The hammer throw requires all the things an athlete should be,” Ammentorp said. “You need length; you need to be strong and fast. It combines all that into one event. And you also have to learn the technique.
“It’s kind of amazing.”
Within months, Ammentorp — who has prior experience in the discus and shot put — was ranked in the top 10 nationally among high school girls in the hammer. Ammentorp throws for Portland-based Super Thrower Track Club since the hammer throw is not offered in Washington high schools.
Her meteoric rise attracted the attention of college coaches. Army West Point, USC and Arizona have all shown interest.
“I freaked out,” Ammentorp said of the first call from a college coach. “As soon as I hung up the phone, I was screaming.”
The chance to participate in sports at an NCAA Division I level never seemed possible before this year. She thought maybe her future was in basketball. But when she saw her name as high as seventh in the country’s national rankings in the hammer throw, it was a “wake-up call,” she said.
Ammentorp’s new love hasn’t diminished her passion for other sports, however. The junior is one of the only athletes in Clark County who competed in three sports this spring.
She was on the girls swim team for a couple weeks before the basketball and track seasons started. Then she had to make the tough choice to drop swimming from her hectic slate.
“I knew if I was going to choose to do basketball, it would have to be all or nothing with them,” Ammentorp said. “And if I continued swimming into basketball, I’d be exhausted. I didn’t think that was fair to my teammates.”
She is a starting post on the 9-2 Titans’ basketball team and a seven-time event winner for the track and field squad this spring.
Ammentorp’s day starts at 7:30 a.m. when she wakes up and tries to get as much classwork done for her Running Start courses at Clark College. At 3 p.m., she heads to track practice for two hours before rushing home to eat dinner and get dressed for basketball. She arrives for basketball practice at 6:15 p.m. to get a few shots up before practice starts. At 9 p.m. she heads home and goes straight to bed.
“There are so many things going on,” Ammentorp said. “But I hate being bored and it’s just a great turnaround from what this past year has been.”
She still misses jamming out to Fall Out Boy or Queen in the car with friends or the occasional moment to catch her breath, but Ammentorp is just relishing the craziness.
Eventually, Ammentorp wants to become a doctor. The obstacles she faces now are just preparation.
“It goes back to never wanting to be bored and always wanting to be challenged,” she said. “Sports has shaped my life in so many ways.”