By Donovan Aird, SAN LUIS OBISPO TRIBUNE
Before Nipomo High's graduation gets under way Friday afternoon, the school will hold another ceremony for one of its departing seniors. Heather Hawes, who recently competed for the Titans at the CIF State Track and Field Championships in the girls discus, has accepted a partial scholarship from UC Santa Barbara and will sign a letter of intent with the Gauchos on Friday morning, just hours before receiving her diploma.
"I'm extremely happy," Hawes said Wednesday. "It's definitely a relief to have the decision off my shoulders."
Hawes' career bests are 145 feet, 9 inches in the discus and 40-5 in the shot put. UCSB is also planning to use her in the hammer throw, she said. That event isn't sanctioned at the high school level in California. Hawes came into the Southern Section Masters Meet at Cerritos College in Norwalk on May 27 seeded 12th in the discus, but jumped eight spots in the standings with a 132-7 performance, finishing in the all-important top five to move on to the state championships.
At the state meet held this past weekend at Buchanan High's Veterans Memorial Stadium in Clovis, she posted a 126-1 effort in the prelims, finishing 18th. Hawes' specialist coach, former Long Beach State thrower Kellen Boaz, said Hawes' talent was evident at the start of this year.
"Even before the season started, I knew she was going to go to state," said Boaz, an older brother of current Cal Poly track and field standout and football lineman Korben Boaz. "I knew she had that potential."
Arizona had offered Hawes a recruited walk-on spot, and UNLV was also in contact with her, she said. UCSB originally offered her several months ago. Ultimately, the Gauchos' team camaraderie, the school's proximity to home and Santa Barbara's overall environment won out.
"I'm looking forward to it," Hawes said.
Kellen Boaz called Hawes one of the Titans' hardest workers. He said that the experience she gained at such crowded postseason meets recently could be key to her confidence and development at the next level. "She should do really well," Boaz said. "I know she'll be one of the best throwers at UCSB."