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3M athletes hoping to head to Junior Olympics

By Jared Green, Daily Planet Staff
Friday July 12, 2002

Berkeley police captain
heads up elite program 


When the Junior Olympics Regional Qualifier kicks off at James Logan High in Union City this weekend, the 3M track & field club will be well represented. 36 athletes in several age groups will be representing the East Bay organization, and all will be under the watchful eye of head coach William Pittman. 

Pittman, a captain in the Berkeley Police Department, started 3M in 1983 as a way for his 7-year-old daughter to get some track experience. What started as a personal project has become the East Bay’s elite track & field club, with about 55 athletes competing every year. 

Mike Hammerquist has been with 3M for 11 years, and the 16-year-old has been to the Junior Olympics every year since 1995. A Berkeley resident, Hammerquist spent the past school year at Claremont’s Webb High after a year at Berkeley High, and 3M has helped him become one of the country’s top throwers in his age group. 

“Kyle has the potential to win in the shotput, javelin and discus,” Pittman said. “We have a very strong throwing group this season, but Kyle is a standout.” 

For Hammerquist, who just missed qualifying for the CIF State Championship as a sophomore, the regionals are a familiar stomping ground. 

“I’ve been there every year for a long time, but I still get excited to be there,” he said. “It’s still a real good sensation to throw in tough competition.” 

The 3M hopefuls also include a bevy of sprinters from James Logan High, one of Northern California’s most powerful prep programs. Pittman expects great things from Talia Stewart, who he considers the favorite to win the national title for 100-meter hurdles, as well as Brittani Dudley, a standout in the 100- and 200-meter races. 

3M also has high hopes in the younger age groups, including boys’ and girls’ relay teams that Pittman calls “high-powered, maybe the best we’ve ever had.” Pittman considers the younger kids his biggest project, as they are putting together the building blocks of high-potential athletes. 

“The younger kids tend to want to emulate the older athletes, and they’re trying to prove something to themselves as well as their parents and peers,” Pittman said. “We try to give them the opportunity to be who they want to be and have people appreciate that.” 

The Junior Olympics will be held July 24-28 in Omaha, Neb. Assuming at least one 3M athlete qualifies this weekend by finishing in the top three at Logan High, this will be the 17th consecutive year the club is represented at the national meet. 

“My program wouldn’t be as steady as it is if it wasn’t for a simple formula: quality kids, quality parents and quality coaching,” Pittman said. He is assisted by Charles Casey, Steven Parker, Stanley Harvey and Mike Hammerquist, each of whom specializes in a few events. “We have a great long-term coaching staff, and we have success with children who want to succeed.”