Photo by Phil Grove
Maura Kimmel knows it's not how you start, it's how you finish.
The Moniteau senior quickly shook off any possible ill effects from an errant practice throw, claiming gold in a Class AA girls discus competition that was tightly contested for six rounds.
"It felt great," the Penn recruit said of her winning effort of 146 feet, 7 inches in round 5. "My coach always tells me to PR toward the end, and that finally happened today. It was nice to get a big throw on one of my last high school throws."
Kimmel appeared to get her day off to an unnerving start, launching her first throw into the protective cage around the discus circle. All was greatly improved when the throws counted.
"That one that went into the cage wasn't really reassuring because it was a power throw," Kimmel laughed. "That's not supposed to happen. I recovered. I don't let that get to me that much. I'm glad I came back from it."
Maura Kimmel after taking the AA girls' discus (Photo by Phil Grove)
It didn't take long for the lead to start changing hands in the second flight as junior Tori McKinley of Hickory opened at 140-6 and Kimmel was next with a 140-8 heave. McKinley, who won a year ago at 143-4, jumped back into the lead in round 2 with a toss of 143-7 that was the day's best heading into the final three rounds.
"You certainly never feel safe," Kimmel said of the lead changes. "At one point, I was second, then I was first. It was back and forth the entire time.
"I just knew what I could do today, and I knew Tori would bring a lot so I just had to do my best and I did."
Kimmel, who also is the top qualifier in Saturday's AA shot put, regained the lead for good with her 144-1 throw in round 4. Neumann Goretti junior Janese Lynch then jumped into the picture in the next round with a PR of 143-10.
McKinley proved to be the most consistently long thrower of the morning, topping 140 feet on five of her throws. Throwing last, the junior had one final chance to catch Kimmel and came up with her best of the day, a silver-medal toss of 145-8.
As the distance was announced, Kimmel flashed a winner's smile."Last year I came here and didn't do great, but this year really paid off," Kimmel said. "(Winning states) certainly has been a goal. You always want to go for gold everywhere."