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Tammen aims to match boys' success

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Tammen aims to match boys' success

Published on -4/19/2012, 10:33 AM

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Otis-Bison High School senior Janel Tammen didn't have a weights class, nor did she lift weights at all as a freshman, a year where the Cougars struggled in many sports.

The next year, Otis-Bison football saw an eight-win improvement in football and went 10-1. In 2010, the Cougars finished as Eight-Man, Division II runner-up with an 11-1 season. Last fall produced a 10-2 year under veteran coach Travis Starr.

In boys' basketball, Otis-Bison has enjoyed the best finishes in school history the last two winters with coach Alan Clark. Two years ago, the Cougars took third in Class 1A, Division II. This March, Otis-Bison lost in double overtime in the state championship. Tammen joined the weight program her sophomore year and often lifts with the boys. Tammen watched the boys work hard and show strong desire in games, and in the weight room.

"You have to show up to compete," Tammen said. "If you don't, it is nobody else's fault but your own. With the boys, Clark and Starr, they push and they get every ounce of effort out of those boys that they can."

She posted strong volleyball and basketball seasons, including averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds for a squad that reached the sub-state championship game, but couldn't lead a team to state.

"It's great," she said of the boys' teams' success. "It makes me almost want to transform and (say), 'Oh I want to be a boy today.' It's really amazing. I never had the opportunity be at state volleyball, to be at state basketball. We tried. We tried as hard as we could, but we never had the opportunity and it's great that they can do that and we can be along for the ride and see how far it goes."

Tammen, a Seward County Community College signee for basketball and track, has earned two state powerlifting titles in the 165-pound class, including one last Saturday. This spring represents her last chance for a state title. Tammen was the lone area athlete to qualify in all three throwing events last year. Despite high marks in the regular season in discus and javelin, Tammen underachieved in all three events at state. She finished fifth in the discus, eighth in the javelin and 10th in the shot put.

This spring, Tammen is again strong in the throws. She has posted season-bests of 36 feet, 6 inches in the shot put, 111-5 in discus and 115-8 in javelin. Tammen doesn't have any of the best marks in 1A, but is close in all three.

No Class 1A thrower has gone higher than 37-2 in shot put and no discus mark is above 116-6. Four 1A javelin throwers have cleared 120 feet, according to historian Carol Swenson's statewide performance list.

"I had a sour taste from state last year," she said. "I kind of got there and folded like a cheap lawn chair. I am really determined to not fold and watching  the guys make it to state in football and basketball -- I am not saying that I have a chance of being a state champion in shot, discus or javelin -- but it would be really great if I could really get there and have a shot at trying."

Few athletes are strong in all three throwing events because of the different motions and arm angles used. Tammen credited genetics for possibly helping her in javelin since her father competed in the event in high school.

Tammen has thrown discus and shot put since junior high and said the Cougars' weight program and boys' success have helped her improve. She didn't qualify for state in any event as a freshman, but took fifth in discus and sixth in shot put as a sophomore.

"She is a hard worker and she didn't want to get beat, so she is competitive and strong, so it works out really well," Starr, also Otis-Bison's track coach, said.

Last year, Tammen collected her first powerlifting title when she lifted 520 combined pounds in clean, bench and squat. She took first in bench (150) and clean (160) and second in squat (210). In track, she threw 127-3 in discus and went 128-1 in javelin to set a school record. At state, Tammen said she "got scared" in front of my much larger crowds at Wichita State University's Cessna Stadium.

"That was a consistency thing again," Starr said. "I know especially on javelin, we didn't have the kind of day that she was hoping for. Hopefully that's all behind her and she can have a better showing this year. Shot put, I think we struggled a little bit last year."

This spring, Tammen is stronger, especially in the lower body. She lifted 540 pounds at the state meet, including first in clean (180), and second in squat (220) and bench (140). She described herself as "much more relaxed" and has thrown her best shot put marks since her freshman year.

Tracy Vap, Otis-Bison's throwing coach, has helped Tammen improve, especially in the discus. In her warmups at Ness City last Friday, Vap yelled to Tammen to pull her right hip forward. Tammen later uncorked her best discus throw of the year.

"I have come a long way with discus," Tammen said. "I used to be really, really horrible. ... She is  not scared to get in your face and tell you that you got to try. She pushes you to get everything out of you. That's what we want. That's what we needed and I love her so much."

Through three meets, Tammen has seven first-place finishes and two seconds against the top 1A throwers in the western half of the state. In five weeks, she look to take crowns against all of Kansas -- and match the boys' successes.

"Just seeing how hard they push and try and how far they have gotten, it makes you want to be there, it makes you want to get to that point," she said.

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