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HHS athlete, her coach win javelin titles

Jim Fuqua and Ashton Pennington won state championships at the Alabama Sports Festival. | Brent Maze

Jim Fuqua doesn’t take it lightly when he decides to coach an athlete.

The Hartselle javelin thrower, who is ranked second in the world in the 55-59 age group, wants someone to have the same drive and work ethic that he has.

“I don’t coach just anyone who asks me,” Fuqua said. “They really have want to work hard if I’m going to coach them. That’s just the way it is.”

In that respect, he may have met his match in  Ashton Pennington. The Hartselle High School senior may not have the typical size of a javelin thrower at just 5-2 in height, but she makes up for it in her strength and drive.

“She’s just a great competitor and one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen,” Fuqua said. “Typically, your javelin throwers are 6-2 and  have a wide wingspan, but Ashton makes up for it in how hard she works.”

Because of that hard work, both Fuqua and Pennington won gold medals at the Alabama Sports Festival last weekend. Spain Park High School in Hoover hosted javelin throw. Pennington won the 17- and 18-year-old division with a throw of 122 feet while Fuqua’s toss of 166 feet easily gave him first place in the 55-59 age group.

The two are strangers to winning competitions. Between them, they have received 29 gold medals since they started working with each other nearly three years ago.

For Pennington, this is her third consecutive state title while Fuqua had won three of the last four in his age division. The only year he didn’t win it was because his registration papers were lost and he was disqualified.

Pennington is also the reigning state champion in AHSAA Class 5A, a feat she achieved with her last throw after someone topped it before the final round.

“We have a competition every day when we come out here,” Pennington said. “We’ll try to outdo each other.”

“She’s even been pushing me lately,” said Fuqua, who has a personal best throw of 213 feet and typically throws 160- to 180-foot range.

For more on this story, please see the Thursday, July 7, edition of the Hartselle Enquirer.