By David Fong
COLUMBUS — Kelsey Walters was lying supine on the browning grass outside Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, a T-shirt covering her face.
The Troy High School senior shot putter couldn’t bear to watch. She figured her season, her career and her dreams had ended with a whimper.
“I thought, ‘Oh my God … I’ve just screwed it all up,’” Walters said. “I thought everything I had worked so hard for the last four years had been for nothing. I didn’t think I made the finals. I thought I had let down myself, my coaches and all the people who had come over here to see me. I was so upset.”
After throwing a 39-4 — more than two feet under her personal record — on the second of her three preliminary throws, Walters thought she was in 1oth place, on the outside looking in at the nine throwers who made the finals and would be awarded three additional throws.
As it turned out, however, her preliminary throw was good enough to put her in ninth place, which would give her three more throws in the finals. Walters took advantage of the second chance, uncorking a throw of 41-9.75 on her final throw of the meet — just a quarter of an inch off her school record — which was good enough to move her up to sixth place and a spot on the podium.
“There’s nothing better than getting a second chance,” Walters said. “When I got that second chance, I knew it had to be all or nothing, because I wasn’t going to get a third chance.”
For Walters, it was the perfect ending to an incredible career. She began her career as a freshman sprinter — she would remain one of the Trojans’ top sprinters all four years of her career — but at the urging of Trojan throwing coach Aaron Gibbons, would add the shot put to her list of events.
She would blossom as a thrower, earning an opportunity to throw at Ball State University next season and ending her career atop the podium at state.
“I’m so happy,” she said. “When you think about it, to get on the podium at the D-I state meet is a big deal. It’s a great way to end my career. I couldn’t have gotten here without the support of Coach Gibbons, Coach (Kurt) Snyder and my principal, Mr. (Bill) Overla. I’m so fortunate to have had this opportunity.”
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong.