If she had a hammer ... wait a second, Amanda Bingson does have a hammer.
So she hammers in the morning. She hammers in the evening. All over this land.
She hammered all over the U.S. Outdoor Championships last weekend at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa., an epicenter of outdoor track and field activity, and of prodigious athletes, and of prodigious athletes’ feats.
Amanda Bingson hammered out danger and hammered out warning. Then the Silverado High and UNLV product hammered out an American record in the women’s hammer throw, twirling and tossing the 8.82-pound ball and chain from a field just north of historic Drake Stadium to a field just south of Sioux Falls.
Bingson’s second throw landed 74.92 meters/245 feet, 9 inches from the circle, and that was the American record. For about 20 minutes. Because her third toss went 75.73 meters/248-5. Good thing there wasn’t a fourth hammer toss, or the people up on the South Dakota-Minnesota border would have been putting on hard hats.
The previous American record in women’s hammer was 74.19 meters/243-5 by Jessica Cosby in 2012. Amanda Bingson broke it by 5 feet.
It would be an exaggeration to say that Jessica Cosby’s record was etched into Amanda Bingson’s mind. But it was written on her bathroom mirror in big, black numbers that motivate.
“My buddy said you can wipe that off now,” Bingson said Tuesday from sticky San Marcos, Texas, where she has moved so she can hammer away with her coach, Greg Watson, the former UNLV volunteer who saw something in her that others did not.
Four years ago, Bingson thought she would enroll in cosmetology school. Her mother thought she should enroll at UNLV, and walk on with the track and field team. In fact, Susan Bingson demanded it.
Susan Bingson was at Drake last weekend, and was rewarded with one of the first hugs. Her daughter said there were a lot of hugs after the record was set. It was just like when she made the Olympic Team out of nowhere last summer.
So Amanda Bingson hammered out love between her brothers and her sisters, too. At least her track and field ones.
She even throws the hammer with a flower in her hair. Pete Seeger, and Peter, Paul and Mary — and Trini Lopez — would have totally dug it.
Amanda Bingson was totally digging it when we spoke on the telephone. You could hear the enthusiasm in her voice, the gee-whiz jubilation, the realization that of all the American women who have ever tossed the hammer, none has ever tossed it farther.
She kept calling me “Dude.”
“Yesterday it finally sort of hit me that to do what I’ve done, in such a short amount of time — and all the people that have tried to do it — yeah, that’s pretty phenomenal,” she said. “Yeah, Dude.”
According to her official USA Track and Field bio, Amanda, who is only 23 in a sport in which the top throwers compete well into their 30s, started throwing the hammer only to impress a cute boy in high school named Ben Jacobs, who is now Ben Jacobs, No. 53, outside linebacker for the Carolina Panthers. That’s mostly true, she said.
The other reason she started throwing the hammer was because she was lousy putting the shot and lousy throwing the discus. And when she tried to throw the javelin, she stabbed herself. Absolutely true story. She can show you the scar.
Eventually, Greg Watson saw that something in her, and then Amanda saw it, too, or at least she felt it when she would twirl and toss the hammer, and it kept landing farther and farther down the field.
It felt good, throwing the hammer, and it felt great when she made the Olympic team, because nobody expected it, least of all her. And then she had her picture taken with Tyson Gay in London, and with Lolo Jones, before Lolo joined the bobsled team and began complaining it doesn’t pay well.
And when she warmed up with what was supposed to be a 66-meter toss at Drake, and it went 72, it felt so easy. Effortless effort. That’s what Don Jones, Amanda’s high school coach, called it.
But the other women of the hammer were displaying effortless effort, too. Jeneva McCall from Illinois threw one 74 meters while getting loose.
Bingson was stunned. “McCall threw 74 meters and I was like ‘Really? That’s just 19 centimeters off the record. Wow, I cannot believe she just threw that far.’ ”
She turned to Watson, and though she’s not the braggadocious type, she got a little braggadocious, because this was Drake, and these were the Outdoor Championships and, well, it was Hammer Time.
“You can throw the American record all day in practice, but unless you can do it in a meet, nobody’s gonna know about it,” Bingson said.
But you do it during Hammer Time, and everybody’s gonna know.
“I looked at my coach and I said, ‘I am not losing this meet.’ ”
So when it was time to start writing down the distances, Amanda Bingson twirled and threw, and the hammer left her hands in one of those majestic arcs, as if The Mighty Thor threw it, and the people up in Sioux Falls went for their hard hats.
And now everybody knows about the girl who had a hammer. All over this land.
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0352. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski.