August 6, 2013

Former Eastern Athlete and Coach Hal Werner Passes Away

Werner, 82, was set to return to EWU on Oct. 5 to be inducted into the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame

 

Harold “Hal” L. Werner, who was recently selected for induction into the Eastern Washington University Athletics Hall of Fame, passed away Sunday (Aug. 4) after suffering a heart attack a week ago. He was 82.

Werner is a former Eastern student-athlete, assistant coach and head coach in the sport of track and field. He was notified earlier this summer that his lifelong endeavors in the sport were to be honored at the induction ceremony on Oct. 5 at EWU. He was set to be at the ceremony and football game that day versus Weber State, but Werner will now be inducted that day posthumously.

A memorial service is being planned for next week in his hometown of Leavenworth, Wash., and he will be buried at the Cashmere Cemetery. Information on his memorial service may be obtained by calling or emailing the Ward Funeral Chapel in Leavenworth – 509-548-7011 or wardsfuneralchapel@nwi.net.

 
 

Hal Werner (Athlete/Track & Coach/Track & Contributor)

A tireless athlete, coach and contributor to the sport of track and field world-wide, Werner spent two seasons at Eastern as an athlete (1950-51), four years as head coach (1966-70) and another seven as an assistant coach. A 1947 graduate of Wenatchee High School, Werner competed in the 1950 and 1951 seasons for Eastern. He adopted the “Finnish technique” of throwing the javelin, and in 1951 won the Evergreen Conference title with a throw of 213-5 1/2 that stood as a school and conference record for 15 years. It was the fifth-best collegiate effort in 1951 and he became the first thrower from the state of Washington to exceed 65 meters (213-3). In addition, in 1951 he had the top mark in the only indoor javelin competition in the United States at the Washington State College Fieldhouse in Pullman. Interestingly, the javelin was thrown into a wooden wall and the distance was determined by measuring the hole angle and the height of the hole on the wall. He had a four-year stint in the Air Force as a survival instructor during the Korean War, and in 1952 was the leading javelin thrower on the Air Force team. However, an elbow injury hindered him at the Olympic Trials, where two of his teammates qualified for the Olympics and won medals in Helsinki, Finland. After his military service, he attended Brigham Young University where he had a throw of 224-9 and qualified for the NCAA Championships in 1956. He competed internationally that summer and had a career-best 232-4 throw. He went on to earn his master’s degree at Washington State where he completed the first study on javelin technique ever conducted on the West Coast. At 45 years of age he concluded his throwing career by winning a gold medal in his age group (45-50) at the 1975 World Master’s Championships. He coached five NAIA All-Americans at Eastern, including four in 1969 when the school finished fourth at the NAIA Championships. While he was head coach at Eastern, he designed a cross country course and designed an indoor track for the old fieldhouse. He also started the Eastern women’s program. After spending eight years at Simon Fraser University where he coached four Canadian Olympians and six NAIA All-Americans, he returned to the Inland Northwest to serve as an assistant coach at Whitworth from 1981-88. He rejoined EWU’s staff under Jim Wharton and Jerry Martin from 1988-95. In 1991, he coached Erik Humble (232-1) and Adam Weston (226-3) to a 1-2 finish at the Big Sky Conference Championships. Humble’s mark stood as a school record for 10 years, just ahead of Weston’s mark. Most recently, Werner served as an assistant coach at St. Martin’s University in Lacey, Wash., near his home in Spanaway. Werner also has extensive coaching experience internationally, starting in 1978 when he was the throwing coach for the Kuwait national team. He also spent time coaching in Africa, including in the countries of Burundi and Ghana, and has also spent time in Hungary, Mexico and Syria. Now living in Tacoma, Werner’s life experiences have also included 37 jumps as a smoke-jumper for the U.S. Forest Service and owner of Ptarmigan Products, which produced insoles for shoes of athletes.

 
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