The senior and UNO signee placed ninth in the shot put at the Drake Relays last year, and placed fifth in Class 3-A at state. On Friday, she will enter the 2017 Drake Relays with the fourth-best throw in the state (44-2).
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Q: How would you describe the feeling of heading into the Drake Relays?
A: I have a lot of nerves. I think this year and last year are two completely different things, just because last year, it was my first year, and I didn’t really know how to handle it. But this year, I’m more prepared, and I definitely want to place high and see if I can go in there and maybe win it.
Q: Going into a big meet like the Drake Relays, do you need to pump yourself up or calm yourself down?
A: Honestly, I think I need to calm myself down, because sometimes when I throw really well and hit a big number, I get really excited and anxious to get back in there and do it again, so I have to calm myself down, so I can get back into my swing of things.
Q: Are you feeling pressure this time around?
A: I feel like there’s always pressure. At every meet that I go to, I’m always nervous and anxious to get in there and do my best.
Q: How do you deal with that pressure?
A: It’s a lot of my mental game. I’m my worst enemy, to be completely honest with you. If I’m in my head, I’m not going to do well. So I usually just kind of either talk to my teammates to talk myself to, or I’ll walk off and do stretching and running to get out of my head.
Q: How is competing at Drake Stadium different compared to anywhere else?
A: I think there’s a much bigger crowd, and there’s a lot more intensity. Because you’re competing against everyone in the state, you know — the best 24. So I think there’s a lot more competition there, and it’s definitely different than state, because you’re just competing against your class at state.
Q: What was your favorite part of your first Drake Relays experience?
A: Honestly, I think I came in there as kind of an underdog because I didn’t throw my very best last year. I was 19th out 24. I came in and I knew what I had to do, and I threw 40, and I ended up placing ninth. That was pretty exciting — getting in the top nine — so that was probably my favorite.
And just being there. That atmosphere is so different than any track I’ve ever been to.
Q: What has been the highlight of your career up to this point?
A: Definitely throwing my 44 (at Red Oak earlier this season). That was insane. I didn’t think I could do that, and it was a great feeling to know that I am capable of doing that, and I am capable of throwing really far. That was honestly the best.
Q: How did that affect your mindset going forward?
A: I don’t think my mindset has changed because I know what I am capable of now. I think it’s just amped it up a little bit. I know what I need to do for my team, and I know what I need to do for myself. I go in there, and I’m not satisfied with a 41 anymore — I need to get back up there.
Q: How did you become so passionate about this sport and this event?
A: To be completely honest, when I was in seventh grade, definitely didn’t want to do track. I was, like, “Well, you have to run all the time”, but then I realized, “No, you can do field events.” And my dad and my brother both did shot in high school, and they were like “Give it a try,” and it turned out I was really good at it. So that’s kind of how it turned out to be, and ever since then, I’ve pushed myself to do my best, and it’s kind of taken off from there.
Q: Over the course of your career, how have you changed as an athlete and as a person?
A: My freshman year, I wasn’t able to participate because I ended up having my first shoulder surgery, so that was a big obstacle I had to face. Going into my sophomore year, I was, like, “I really need to focus on getting better, so I can throw again.” Then I found out that I ended up tearing it again, so my whole sophomore season I was hurt, but I was still throwing — not my best. Then my junior year, I ended up having my second shoulder surgery.
I think that having all of these obstacles in the way have set me up for obstacles in life, I think, because I have to push myself and really be determined to get things done. And it showed me that it’s me versus myself. I’m the only who can push myself to get better. It’s definitely my determination for anything, at this point. That’s one thing that’s changed me over the years. Going into high school, I didn’t think I was going to get hurt, but life is just funny sometimes, I guess.
Q: Who has had the most influence on your career?
A: I would say my dad. He is 100 percent my biggest supporter. He pushes me in my events, and he’ll make sure that I am pushing myself to be the best I can. He’ll see potential in me that sometimes I don’t see, and I have to thank him, 100 percent.
Q: When your high school career is over, you’re headed to UNO. What made it the right fit for you?
A: Honestly, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go. I just knew I wanted to go throw somewhere. But the second I saw UNO, it was kind of a done deal. I saw how great their campus was, and I want to go into psychology, so I looked at their program, and it just felt like a good fit for me. That was the only thing I wanted. To make sure that wherever I go, it had to be education first. So when I knew, I knew.
So, then it was like, “Let’s get the track situation figured out, and hopefully they go together,” and they ended up going together, and it just kind of worked out.
Q: What’s something that you want to accomplish after high school?
A: I definitely want to be as competitive as I am. Hopefully they can help me reach my potential. And I don’t know what else they’ll put me in, so hopefully, they’ll put me in something different, because I always like trying something new.
Q: What do you want to accomplish on Friday?
A: I definitely want to compete with the best, and show everyone my ability and my potential. And I want to score high. I wasn’t satisfied with ninth place last year. It was really cool, but I want a medal out of it, and honestly, I really want to go in there and compete and maybe win. It would really be exciting to win that thing.