Faith Bender

Liberty rising junior Faith Bender, right, and her dad, Paul, at the New Balance Track and Field Championships in North Carolina on Sunday. Photo courtesy: Stephanie Bender

Despite the CIF State Track and Field Championship being three weeks in the rearview mirror, Faith Bender continues to prove she is in a class all by herself.

The Liberty High thrower is now the top thrower in California heading into next season.

Bender, who just completed her sophomore season, earned two All-American honors at the 2019 New Balance National Outdoor Track and Field Championships in North Carolina over the weekend.

Bender, who finished up her sophomore year for Liberty at the state championships with a second-place finish in the discus a fifth-place finish in the shot put, is now the unquestioned leader in both events for her class in the United States, too.

Over the weekend Bender set a new personal-best in the shot put at 47-7.25, which is the top mark for a sophomore in the country in the event.

“It’s awesome. I get to live on the Bender tradition,” she said. “This was a great experience. I wanted my Father’s Day gift to be a PR in the discus. I didn’t get it. But I got it in the shot. I think that was a pretty good Father’s Day gift.

Bender was referring to setting a PR on Father’s Day with her dad, Paul, coaching her over the weekend. Paul Bender won the state boys discus title for Shafter in 1980 and has been her throws coach at the national level at the youth level and the past two seasons as her personal coach at Liberty along with Rod Chronister.

“It’s right up there at the top,” Paul Bender said of her setting a PR on Father’s Day.

Bender’s PR in the shot put was good for third place and also placed fourth in the discus championships at New Balance on Saturday with a top mark of 153-2. The top mark was 155-0.

Both finishes are All-American status for Bender, who also earned an All-American nod in the discus in 2018 following her freshman campaign at Liberty.

“I really wanted the high standard for the double event,” Faith Bender said. “Now it makes me feel good about trying out the hammer next year.”

Bender is now 12th in the nation in the shot put this season and No. 4 for returning competitors in the shot put and the top rising-junior. Her mark also means Bender will be No. 1 in the shot put and discus in California heading into her junior year next spring.

Bender’s personal-best mark of 168-6 from the state championships is the top returning mark in California in the event and No. 3 nationally this season, for all grades. Bender trails only Kalynn Meyer (176-8) nationally in the discus for returning competitors.

Meyer, a rising senior from Nebraska, is the lone thrower in the country that has a better combination total in the shot put and discus than Bender.

Meyer leads the nation in both events with a mark of 49-5 in shot and 176-8 in the discus for a total of 226-1. Bender’s top marks equal 216-1.25.

Before Bender takes a break from a long season of competition, she will compete one last time this summer at the U.S.A. Track and Field Junior Olympics in Sacramento that will be held July 22-28.

“That’s more of a cool down meet for us,” Faith Bender said. “But that’s the last time I get to go to Junior Olympics. I’m super excited.”

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