SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Sam Houston State freshman Joshua Hernandez captured the top spot in the hammer throw at the USA Track and Field Junior National Championships on Saturday.

The El Paso native cruised past his competition with a first-place toss of 249 feet, more than 36 feet in front of Cameron Thompson of Connecticut, who took runner-up.

“Josh is a tremendous talent," throwing coach Jonathan Tipton said. "He works harder than anyone I've met. We knew going in we had a legit shot at winning. The goal was to make finals and see how we could improve. He improved in finals. Round five, we made some changes and he executed well."

By virtue of the title, Hernandez will represent the United States in the 2017 Pan American Junior Championships, held July 21-23 in Lima, Peru.

"I think we prepared really well," Hernandez said. "We just knew we needed to execute what we had been doing. It's a huge honor to compete with Team USA across my chest. To be able to go after it and do that is spectacular."

The USATF Junior National Championships are open to competitors who turn 18 this calendar year or are younger. Hernandez entered the weekend after taking 13th at the NCAA Championships as one of just two freshmen qualifying.


“The philosophy we are trying to get across is surround ourselves with good people," Tipton said of Sam Houston State. "If we surround ourselves with good people, they will try to reach those standards. We want to make a statement. We want to be the best throws school in Texas and eventually regarded as one of the best in the country. We work hard. We're blue collar.”