HAMILTON — Just behind the sterling new grandstands that overlook the Hamilton Athletic Complex's crown jewel — a turf field and 10-lane track — rests a concrete slab and chain link fence that, on second look, look pretty darn nice, too.
And on Friday afternoon in the heat of a summer break day, soon-to-be junior Orion Kutney was out putting the platform that sits on the southwest side of the complex to good use.
“Every once in a while I’ll come out and throw it’s just something I love to do,” said Kutney, who qualified for state last year in discus as a sophomore at Hamilton. “Having them brand new is pretty special, especially since not many other complexes have them that are this new. Everything here is really nice, with the track, too.”
The new track and field, paid for by a school bond, needed a new discus ring and shot put pit to match, though. That inspired Hamilton throwing coach Chris Jessop along with his dad Mike and his company J5 Construction, which had added motivation from Hamilton school board member Mark Yoakam, to get to work.
"For me, the No. 1 reason was for the kids," said Chris. "When I heard that they were doing the track, the amount of money they were putting into it that was the moment I said, OK, we’re going to get a throwing facility that’s going to be as nice as the track is going to be.
"... Mark was there every step of the way, too. He said, 'We're going to build this and we're going to build the best.'"
Word around the state is that Hamilton's discus ring — and shot put ring and pit on the north end of the complex — is the best.
"I’ve been told it’s the best one in the state, so until somebody says otherwise I’m going to have to agree with them," Hamilton School District Superintendent Tom Korst said.
And the throwing facility was largely put together by private donation in the form of labor and parts.
Mike Jessop of J5 estimates the bid for the project would have cost about $50,000. For Hamilton's throwing ring, Donaldson Brothers donated a large portion of the concrete, Massa Home Center sold fencing and other facility pieces at cost. Chris, Mike and others gave up their labor for free to get the project mostly done during a warm spell in December.
"At the end of the day, the district’s out of pocket was $5,000 to get this done. And if you look at that compared to the numbers if you had bid it out, you would have been blown away," said Chris.
The father-son combo joke that it's ironic they were so invested in the project since the two are Corvallis High School graduates — Hamilton's immediate rival.
But this was a labor of love. Chris and Mike didn't even want to be recognized for the work, they merely wanted the work to allow the area kids to get to work and get better.
"We don’t want to be thanked, we’re even embarrassed to be here. We just want to be in the background," said the patriarchal Mike. "We just get done what needs to be done and sit back and watch and hope that they’re used and the kids are getting better."
If Kutney's practice session on Friday was any evidence — or the all-state track and field season a pair of upperclassmen Broncs had this spring — the work on the facility is being put to good use.
Oh yeah, Hamilton senior Jacob Campbell broke the school record in shot put and finished second place in Class A in the event with a throw of 56 feet, 1.5 inches. He also placed third in the discus at state.
"We got it done just in time for divisionals and in time for the seniors who deserve to throw in it," said coach Jessop. "But I think he wishes he had another year in it."
Now, though, future Broncs have a new practice ring to try and take down the new school record mark.