Funkhouser proves size isn’t everything
STRASBURG — Rachel Funkhouser may not look like a typical discus thrower. The Strasburg junior is smaller than most of her competitors, but she has shown all season that size doesn’t matter in the discus.
Funkhouser enters this weekend’s Group 2A state track and field meet as the top seed with a PR of 116 feet, 8 inches.
“When I go up to throw I see all of the bigger girls and they kind of look at me like I’m a piece of meat, but I go up there and I think I prove them wrong,” Funkhouser said. “I love that they overlook me sometimes. It makes me feel good when I can prove to them that I’m just as good as they are. I also like that technique takes you where you want to with discus. You don’t have to be super strong. Strength definitely helps, but technique is really what it comes down to.”
Funkhouser’s technique has been spot-on all season, which is why she’s been consistent all year. Strasburg throws coach Tommy Simmons said that Funkhouser has thrown at least a 110 in all but one meet this season.
Last week Funkhouser, the Northern Virginia Daily’s Female Athlete of the Week for May 25-31, won the Region 2A East title in the discus with a throw of 114-09.
Funkhouser had tough competition from Brunswick’s Accura Morgan, who had an early lead in the preliminaries. Funkhouser rose to the occasion, took the lead and held it the rest of the way.
“She doesn’t seem to let things bother her,” Simmons said. “When [Morgan] passed her, a lot of kids would let that bother them.”
Funkhouser said she tries to stay positive and focused on what she needs to do when she’s performing.
“As Tommy [Simmons] has told me, I just need to relax and throw like I l know how to,” Funkhouser said. “I hope to do that every time and I think about the steps that I need to take in the circle. I go through kind of a checklist in my mind of what I need to do.”
Funkhouser said she threw in seventh grade and for the last three years in high school, and she really enjoys it.
Last year Funkhouser qualified for the state meet in the discus, but didn’t perform as well as she would have liked.
“Last year at states was really intimidating, honestly,” Funkhouser said. “I saw all the good throwers and the big cage at states and I’m hoping this year it won’t be as bad. I’m hoping to come out on top this year. I’m really excited to just perform and do my best at states.”
Even if it rains, Funkhouser will be prepared. Simmons said that Funkhouser called him last Saturday to work with him in the rain, to get better used to the possible conditions at the state meet.
Funkhouser will also have two teammates right beside her in the competition. Strasburg’s Hannah Keane and Miley Hupp will also be in the discus. Keane finished third last week in the Region 2A East meet.
Simmons said the trio really help each other.
“The girls, for as good as throwers as we have had, they’ve always been pretty helpful instead of jealous,” Simmons said. “They want to beat each other, but yet they cheer for each other. … They usually get along and these three like each other. That helps a lot.”
Strasburg has had a strong tradition of throwers. Funkhouser said she just wants to help keep that tradition going this weekend.
“The legacy of good discus throwers at Strasburg High School, especially for girls, that really makes a fire inside me that makes me want to do good,” Funkhouser said. “I really just want to go out there and make all of the past throwers, and all of the throwers that are going to be, proud and hopefully I can take home states.”
Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or email@example.com