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SMALL COLLEGES: It’s hammer time for Benedictine thrower Adam Chocola

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Updated: April 19, 2013 6:04PM

When Adam Chocola graduated from high school track and field to the college sport, a whole new world opened for him. His events, the shot put and discus, were still available, but he added options in the javelin and hammer throw outdoors and the 35-pound weight throw indoors.

It’s in the hammer that he is making his mark. The Benedictine senior won the event by more than a meter with a 54.10-meter heave Saturday at the 24-team Eagle Invitational in Lisle. He previously had been named Northern Athletics Conference men’s track and field athlete of the week after winning the event at the North Central College First Chance invitational March 28-29.

“Hammer is definitely my favorite event,” said Chocola, who also competes in the shot, discus and javelin. “It’s pretty much ball and chain, it’s light, it goes far. I’m so glad I got to go to college and throw it. It’s so unusual. You tell people you throw the hammer and they say, ‘Oh, do you go to Home Depot and buy a hammer?’ ”

Chocola, who started his college career at St. Ambrose before transferring to Benedictine for his sophomore year, was the team captain and MVP a year ago as the Eagles tied Concordia of Wisconsin for first place in the NAC meet. He won the hammer and discus outdoors after placing second in the weight throw indoors.

“Coming from Brother Rice, in Illinois [high schools] you only throw the shot and disc,” he said. “When you get to college and you start to do hammer turns for the first time or learn how to throw the javelin properly, it’s a lot of technique. You have to be able to counter a weight or counter a hammer, or even have technique to throw the javelin straight so you don’t tear anything in your shoulder.

“Definitely the technical aspects of the hammer, it’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. It’s the best and most fun.”

For the season, he is focused on qualifying for the NCAA Division III meet.

“I came up a little bit shy last year,” he said “Toward the end of the season I really started to pick it up and was just a few spots out of qualifying. That’s been my main goal — definitely to win conference again [as a team] like we did last year, first time in school history, and just continue to get everyone better and make nationals.”

Hot pitcher

Whenever sophomore right-hander Adam Panayotovich has take the mound, St. Francis of Joliet has been able to feel in control. Panayotivich (6-1, 1.90) is tied for the CCAC lead in wins, stand third in ERA and has struck out 46 batters while walking only 11.

That’s helped the Saints (25-18, 15-7) to the top of the CCAC South Division in a tight race with Trinity Christian (17-14, 13-6), St. Xavier (18-14, 13-8) and Olivet Nazarene. (23-16, 12-8).

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