Tom Mix, Published August 27 2012
Fargo youngster wins softball throw national championship
Cole Hage has pretty diverse tastes when it comes to the sports he plays.
The Fargo 10-year-old enjoys the more conventional games of football, baseball and basketball, but he’s gained more notoriety for excelling at a sport that is a little more unique.
Earlier this month, Hage won a national championship in the softball throw at the 35th annual Hershey’s North American Track and Field Games in Hershey, Pa.
Hage, who is 5-foot-1 and 110 pounds, won the boys 9-10 age group with a throw that measured 145 feet, 11 inches. The next best throw was
138-02¾ by Damien Call of Rome, N.Y.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Hage, who was one of five participants at the meet from North Dakota. “I came in ranked third and I was down by 13 feet and it is very hard to make up 13 feet on another guy. I ended up beating him by seven feet. It was really awesome.”
The Hershey’s North American Track and Field Games finals include 480 athletes ages 9-14. The youth sports program is the largest in the nation and challenges youth across the nation to explore recreation and sports through running, jumping and throwing.
Hage qualified for the event by winning the softball throw at a regional meet earlier in the summer. He has won the state softball throw the last two years and also took first in the 100 meters, the 200 meters and the 400-meter relay at the state meet this summer.
Hage, who attends Bennett Elementary, said he started practicing in the softball throw once a week for two hours starting in June.
The practice paid off when he earned an all-expenses paid trip to Hershey. His father, Fred, mother, Heidi and sister Christina also joined Cole at the meet for encouragement.
“We were just honored as a family that he was able to participate in the Hershey North American meet,” Fred Hage said. “As a dad I was very proud he could go and represent North Dakota.”
“I just wanted him to have fun. He was competing against eleven kids in his age group. … Cole gave it his best shot and he was able to win it.”
While in Hersey, Cole Hage got to tour Chocolate World, attend several banquets for athletes and got to listen to a key-note speech given by Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis.
After two years of steady practice, Cole Hage has the softball throw down to a science.
“You want to get your footwork down for the steps you are allowed to take,” Cole Hage said. “You also have to angle it right. You can run as long as you want, but I take five steps.”
The victory has him thinking about bigger things to come in his athletic future.
“I think Cole competing in Hershey has definitely made him more competitive,” Fred Hage said. “Cole is a very competitive to begin with. He loves football, he is good at that, he is good at basketball, he is good at baseball and as long as he is having fun that is all you can ask for.”
As of now, Cole Hage is strictly focusing on throwing softballs, but said he could branch out to the discus throw and shot put later.
“I’ll get more competitive in track,” said Cole Hage. “I was thinking about trying the shot put, but I’m not going to do it until I’m a little older. Fourteen is the last year of Hershey with the softball throw. You push in the shot put and I don’t want it interfering with my softball throw.”
Readers can reach Forum reporter
Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562