Salute To Seniors: Kayleigh Conlon

(Kayleigh wins the D1 Girls Shot Put at State this past May.-Photo by Harold Smith)

Name: Kayleigh Conlon

School: Mountain Pointe

As a freshman at Mountain Pointe, Kayleigh set some audacious goals for herself which she accomplished accordingly. She went from taking 5th in the D1 State Championship Discus competition her freshman year, to setting the State record as a Senior and graduating as a 2x State Champion in D1 Girls Shot Put. Kayleigh has signed with the Southern Illinois University and will compete for the Salukis while pursuing a degree in Criminal Justice.

Q: What was your most memorable throw/moment?

A: My most memorable throw/moment was throwing the state record throw in shot put at the Tempe City championships. I had fouled throws that would have broken the record before so it was so relieving to finally have one come together and count. Everyone at that meet was so excited to have seen it and it was awesome being able to put a smile on so many people's faces. As a bonus, it was pretty neat being able to completely stop a competition for a few minutes for them to verify the mark.

Q: Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years?

A: The amount of competition for me changed dramatically over the course of my high school seasons. As a freshman, everyone was my competition because I was not the best in the state and I struggled to make finals at most of the invites I attended. My sophomore year, my biggest competition was Corneisha Mitchell from Chandler High School. She was a Senior that year and we went back and forth at most of the meets that we competed against each other. My Junior and Senior year, my biggest competition was Sierra Valdivieso from Skyline High School. Although we only competed in two meets together, she was pretty much right behind me with her marks and always made me push myself to get better.

Q: What was your greatest accomplishment?

A: My greatest accomplishments in high school were achieving all of the goals I had set for myself since Freshman Year. The goals, in order, were to make it to state, place at state, make the podium at state, win state, break the state record, and to become good enough to where I could continue throwing in college.

Q: If you could do it all over again what would you change about your throwing career in high school?

A: If I could change anything about my high school career, it would be to get into a weight lifting program sooner than my Junior year and to have started the rotational technique my Freshman year instead of my Sophomore year.

Q: What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?

A: The most difficult obstacle that I had to overcome were communication issues between my coaches. I had a few coaches that I worked with throughout my high school career and sometimes, their way of explaining something would be completely different and I would have a difficult time being able to interpret what each one was saying. My senior year was much better with this because I had matured as a thrower and was able to understand the throw more efficiently.

Q: What will you miss the most?

A: The thing that I will miss the most is the people. I will miss all of my competitors and teammates because we always cheered each other on and wanted each other to improve just as much as we wanted to improve ourselves. I will miss my coaches because the environment they brought was similar to being a family and I would have never been where I am without them. I will even miss the crowd because they were the best at getting me pumped for my throws and I loved seeing so many people being passionate about throwing, even when they weren't the ones competing.

Q: What advice would you give to younger athletes?

A: My advice to younger athletes is to find their passion and stick to it. There will be times where you will want to quit because it will become extremely difficult or stressful but trust me, it's worth it. The rewards that come with a little hard work and determination can beat out any challenge that life has to throw at you.

Q: What influence has your coach had with respect to your performance and overall life goals?

A: My coaches had a major influence in the athlete and in the person that I am today. My coaches at Mountain Pointe as well as the outside coaching I received taught me to not only learn the technique of the throw, but to understand why the technique is the way it is. They pushed me and challenged me by always making me judge my throws before they would judge them. Before I realized it, I was able to mentally analyze my throws and know what I needed to work on before my coach even said it. My coaches also taught me various life lessons that I will continue to use in the future. One of these lessons would include attitude. Good or bad, I was taught to always be humble and be proud in my competitions because it was a process.

Q: What are your college plans?

A: I will be continuing my track and field career at Southern Illinois University. I will be pursuing a degree in Criminology/ Criminal Justice.

Q: Who would you like to say 'thank you' to?

A: There are a few people I would like to thank. I would like to thank all of the people who came out to support me and cheer me on at my meets. I would also like to thank my coaches for guiding me in the right direction with my throwing career. However, the biggest thank you needs to go to my mom and dad. For the past four years they have put up with the most out of everyone. Through taking me to and from practice, being at every single one of my meets, buying me the things that I needed, paying for private coaching, and for being there for everything, they have given me the greatest gift anyone could ever give, opportunities. I can never thank them enough for all they do for me and i love them so much!!