Tucked away behind Sehome High School, Bellingham senior Jakob Chamberlin stood in the Mariners’ discus circle preparing to make his final set of throws during a midweek practice.
Unavailable facilities led Chamberlin and the rest of Bellingham’s throwers to Sehome High, where Red Raiders throws coach and former Mariners standout Steven Ayers overwatched his group.
Chamberlin, on his final rep, unleashed a massive throw that flew over the landing area before coming to a stop halfway up a small hill leading to Sehome’s soccer field.
Chamberlin laughed. “That was my best throw ever,” he said.
Perhaps feeling the need to keep the Red Raider senior standout always pushing for more, Ayers responded.
“Yeah, that’s about where I was throwing my senior year at practice,” Ayers said.
Nine years ago Ayers, one of the most heralded throwers in Whatcom County track and field history, won a state championship in the shot put and discus. His 64-feet, 7.5-inch mark in the shot still stands as the Class 2A state meet record.
That first year track, discus just felt good in my hands, and that’s what I really love about track. Shot put, I’m coming around a little bit, but discus is fantastic.
Bellingham senior thrower Jakob Chamberlin
Now, fast forward nearly a decade, and Ayers is working with a thrower poised to bring down the state discus record — 180-3.
“I have this vision of a picture like, you know my shot record on one side next to me and his disc record ... hopefully he can get the disc record next to him,” Ayers said.
Chamberlin, a 6-foot-4 athlete with a strong build and long wingspan, made a name for himself last season, taking home a state championship in the discus and a fifth-place finish in the javelin.
With another year of development, Chamberlin has ascended to a higher level this spring.
187-10 The distance in feet and inches of Jakob Chamberlin’s discus PR, which ranks 22nd in the nation
He owns a personal record of 187-10 in the discus. It’s the best mark in Washington in all classifications and ranks 22nd in the nation. He’ll also be in the mix for a state title in the shot put and could even contend in the javelin during this year’s state championships.
Chamberlin also has a 16 meet winning streak in the discus. Not since May 2, 2015 has the Bellingham thrower finished any place but first.
The fact Chamberlin’s become the best discus thrower in the state has been somewhat of a revelation. No way four years ago when he began his Bellingham High athletic career, did he think track and field is where he’d excel the most.
“I started doing track because I wanted to lift in the spring for football, and I turned out to be pretty good at it,” said Chamberlin, who played football and basketball. “That first year track, discus just felt good in my hands, and that’s what I really love about track. Shot put, I’m coming around a little bit, but discus is fantastic.”
From the start, there was no shortage of evidence suggesting Chamberlin’s throwing potential. He really began taking off following his sophomore season when he posted a personal best discus throw of 156-5.
A state title came last year, leaving Chamberlin searching for motivation this spring.
But Chamberlin has always craved hard work. Whether he’s on a multiday backpacking excursion or at his full-time summer carpentry job, the senior’s always enjoyed taking on a challenge and then witnessing the results.
So Chamberlin quickly decided what he wanted out of his final season.
“There is a Muhammad Ali quote,” Chamberlin explained. “He says, ‘I’m going to show you how great I am,’ and that just kind of stuck in my head.”
This season hasn’t been about winning another state championship, Chamberlin said. It’s about him pushing himself as far as he can and reaching some lofty goals: a 2A state meet record in the discus, a throw of 200 feet-plus.
Chamberlin’s development from Year 1 to Year 4 has been impressive, and it’s even more remarkable given the fact he’s had a new throws coach every season. He’s often had to be self reliant, watching YouTube videos or college throwers. This past summer he attended Iron Wood Thrower Development Camp in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where he earned MVP honors out of 230 athletes.
“I knew he was a quality person and had a good amount of talent, but what really stood out to me when I got here was how much talent,” Ayers said. “On Day 1, it was like, ‘Oh, this is a different animal than I was anticipating.'”
Ayers and Chamberlin have been a perfect fit.
While arguably no one in the league can push Chamberlin in discus, let alone the state, Ayers consistently challenges Chamberlin to hit the marks he was throwing as a senior in high school. Plus, Ayers, who also coaches Western Washington University’s throwers, offers a wealth of knowledge.
“It’s nice to be able to basically talk crap to him,” Ayers joked. “‘Hey, no, compete with me. I have these marks out there.’ I feel bad every time I do it because I want to let him enjoy his moment, but when I was throwing (Sehome throws coach Tim) Carlson was on me.”
While Chamberlin will be finishing a decorated Bellingham track and field career in the coming weeks, he’s long from done in the sport. He will throw for Concordia University, which is a Division II school competing in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, next year.