Squalicum's Flint brings the wow factor to throwing events

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 15, 2013 

It was about the time of the afternoon when minds wander and parents start trying to track down young kids that have been running wild all day for the drive home after a lengthy final day of the State Track and Field Championships. But the announcement of the final results of the Class 2A girls' discus results made just about everybody in the packed stands at Mount Tahoma High School snap attention to the awards stand and utter a collective, "Wow!"

Squalicum senior Gina Flint had just broken the five-year-old state meet record in the event by 15 feet.

Though the University of Washington-bound thrower wowed the crowd and claimed her second straight state title in the event with her throw of 161-11, it was a little more than 6 feet short of her personal best of 168-0.

In other words, it was just another day at the office for Flint, who has been selected The Bellingham Herald's All-Whatcom County Girls' Track and Field Athlete of the Year after she also won a second straight state title and broke another five-year-old state meet record in the shot put - this time by "only" a little more than 21/2 feet with her throw of 47-63/4.

"There have been so many great moments with Gina the last four years, but I think the first wow moment I had with her was her freshman year when she PRed by 10 feet in the discus while standing in a couple of inches of rain water," Squalicum throws coach Chris Benson said in a phone interview. "That was probably as excited as I have been, because that's not easy to do. She started early, and she's made me continue to say 'Wow.'"

Probably never more than in 2013, when Flint not only won every time she threw - 13 for 13 in the shot put and 13 for 13 in the discus - she dominated every time out.

She threw her best at the 2A District 1/2 Meet at Civic Stadium, when she not only threw the 168-0 in the discus, but also a personal-best 48-21/2 in the shot put. Both were the best girls' marks in the state this year - the discus by 211/2 feet - and ranked her seventh nationally in the shot put and third in the nation in the discus. Her discus throw was the third-longest in state history and she tied for fifth-longest ever in the shot put.

"My discus throw that meet, it came off my hand and hadn't hit the ground yet, and I got chills," Flint said in a phone interview. "Then they measured it and it was a PR. It was so exciting."

Call that her wow moment.

Whatcom County has not seen a thrower as dominant as Flint since former Sehome great Steven Ayers graduated and went to play football at Washington State.

In fact Flint had to make her own competition, because she simply was throwing out of the zip code of everyone else at the meets she attended.

"I'm friends with some of the other top girls in the nation," she said. "We'd talk to each other, and let each other know what we were throwing. We kind of competed with each other, even though we weren't at the same meets. I'd always think about what I wanted to work on in my form and what changes needed to be made and push myself to make those changes."

Of course, Flint has been an expert at providing her own motivation over the years.

"Her ultimate goal this year was 185 feet in the discus and 50 feet in the shot," Benson said. "She didn't quite make it there, but she got pretty close. That's what she does, is she makes a goal and sticks to it and figures out a way to get there."

That sort of goal setting has allowed Flint to continually improve throughout her throwing career.

In the discus, she improved her personal best from 112-10 as a freshman to 113-7 as a sophomore, 153-4 as a junior and 168-0 as a senior. She saw similar growth in the shot put, moving from 35-103/4 as a freshman to 39-91/2 her sophomore year, 45-73/4 as a junior and 48-21/2 this year.

"You don't see that too often," Benson said. "Every year in the discus she went 20 feet, 20 feet, 15 feet progress. In the shot, she went 3 feet, 4 feet, 4 feet. That's pretty special, too. That's just attributed to all the hard work she put in."

Flint is not only a year-round regular in the weight room lifting with the boys, she also throws just about every day - rain or shine.

"A lot of my friends think I'm crazy throwing in the rain and cold," Flint said. "I even threw in the snow one time, and they thought I was nuts. But I want to work hard."

Flint's dedication isn't all that makes her a special thrower.

"She's got natural quickness and athleticism," Benson said. "That's a real plus. When she finds herself out of position in the discus, she's athletic enough to recover to get in position. She matches that with tremendous strength. She's not just the strongest girl on our team, she's the strongest on the track team - boy or girl. That, combined with her hard work in the weight room has made her who she is."

But Flint is much, much more than just a good thrower.

Anybody who has heard her sing the National Anthem before Squalicum football or basketball games knows that the standout student athlete has a lot more going for her.

"I know a lot of people come up to me and say they respect the way that I sing the National Anthem and that I sing it the way it should be sung," Flint said. "I know a lot of people do runs on notes and change it to fit their own style. My grandpa asked me to please sing it straight and sing it the way it's supposed to be, and I promised to do that. Sophomore year, I sang before a football game, and I had a retired vet come up and say I sang it beautifully and he liked that I sang it straight. It really made an impact on me."

The anthem is far from the only song in Flint repertoire.

She's been a member of the Squalicum Storm Singers, which meets at 6:30 a.m. for practice, and the school's Concert Choir, which is a class that meets during the day. In April she got to go with Squalicum's women's ensemble to Ellensburg to compete at state, where the team placed seventh. She also competed at state as an alto soloist.

In January, she auditioned for UW's completive voice team - a team that usually doesn't allow freshman. Instead, Flint said she plans to sing with the University Choir next year.

"I know my parents say that when I was little, I was singing all the time," Flint said. "In fifth grade, I decided I wanted to do strings before school, and I played the violin in the fifth grade orchestra. ... I really enjoy music. When I don't have anything else to do, I can just come home and play guitar or the piano or sing. It's something I've loved for a long time."

It's also something Flint said she loves to do with her older sister Kyann, who Flint said suffers from a form of Muscular Dystrophy.

Kyann is a regular at track meets, though, as she can routinely be seen there taking pictures, Flint said.

"We're like any sisters," Flint said. "Sometimes we fight, but we like to hang out and go shopping. She's always been such a huge supporter of what I do. She's always there when I'm competing in music or track, or even when I played basketball. I think she's always pushing me to go harder."

In fact, track is kind of a family affair in the Flint household, with Gina's and Kyann's father, Ted, the sprints coach at Squalicum, and the family has been regulars at Bellingham Parks and Recreation all-comers meets since Flint was 5 and tried to compete in as many different events as she possibly could.

"It's been nice knowing my dad was there," Flint said. "Even though he couldn't always watch me because I knew he had to coach, just having him there when I was competing and seeing him walk up and watch me, that was great. ... My sister takes the pictures and my mom does the scrap booking."

Just imagine what that scrapbook must look like after everything Flint accomplished this spring.

But it's not all the medals she won or the records she broke that Flint says she's going to remember from 2013.

"I just go out every time with the purpose to have fun and cheer on the other throwers and hope to throw a PR myself," Flint said. "The thing I'm going to remember most is the way everyone on the team would get closer and closer together as state approached. Even at midseason, it was like we were a giant family. Everyone knows everyone, and everyone cheers everyone on. That's what I'm going to remember."

Reach David Rasbach at david.rasbach@bellinghamherald.com or 360-715-2286.

ALL-WHATCOM COUNTY GIRLS' TRACK AND FIELD ATHLETES OF THE YEAR

2013: Gina Flint, Squalicum

2012: Cherish Morrison, Blaine

2011: Zoe Moeller, Sehome

2010: Cherish Morrison, Blaine

2009: Becca Friday, Bellingham

2008: Becca Friday, Bellingham

2007: Becca Friday, Bellingham

2006: Meghan Dahl, Ferndale

Reach DAVID RASBACH at david.rasbach@bellinghamherald.com or call 715-2271.

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