As a middle child with an older and a younger brother, sophomore Kerry Wright grew up in a climate of ongoing competition. Wright recalled how she and her brothers played baseball in her family’s backyard. It is a continuation of her competitive drive that has helped Wright make Whitworth track and field history in the javelin throw, awarding her The Whitworthian’s Female Athlete of the Year. Wright attended Portland State University for a quarter after high school, but transferred to Whitworth for the spring semester of her freshman year. She has now qualified for nationals for the second year in a row and finished second nationally as a freshman.
This season, Wright threw her best mark at the conference championships with a throw of 156’ 2’’, just shy of her personal goal of 160’ for the season. The mark set new records for the NWC championship meet and for the Whitworth school record.
“We have three more meets, and four more weeks until nationals, so for the next couple of weeks, she’ll get closer to there and hopefully at nationals she throws that,” head coach Toby Schwarz said. “She has a good arm, she has a great technique, very strong, her acceleration at the end of the throw is just not where it needs to be. If she had better speed, better acceleration specifically, she would throw even further.”
Wright said that she had to adjust her running techniques by taking shorter runs before her throw to get the distance mark she threw at the conference championships, she said.
“Javelin is a sport where there is a thousand things that you try to do right, so if you do even half of them right, you’re going to get a pretty big throw, whether it is footwork, timing or arm motions,” senior javelin thrower Tyler Coopman said.
Schwarz knew Wright would win conference, that she would qualify for nationals, and that she would be in the top 12 of the nation, and she is now ranked number one before going into nationals, Schwarz said.
“It took a long time for me to get up to that mark, but being able to throw that number is really satisfying,” Wright said.
Though she plans to follow the footsteps of her javelin idol Brittany Borman, a four-time NCAA Track and Field Champion, Wright’s 93-year-old grandfather has been the most inspirational person in her life, from whom she seeks guidance, Wright said.
“He’s been with track for years. He’s watched and been an official for track, and he knows the sport really really well,” Wright said. “He just supports me no matter what. He was at the conference meet [championships] and he got emotional because he was so proud. His excitement fuels me.”
During Jan Term, Wright suffered a pulled muscle in her hip, which limited her to half the amount of work compared to everyone else, Wright said. She had to go to physical therapy, and still managed to qualify for nationals.
“I just have to be able to fix that and take time off, which I am not about to. It’s not going away, but it’s definitely better because I couldn’t do drills or the technical work that I wanted to do. I had to take it really slow,” Wright said.
Coopman said that Wright sets an example for her teammates and described her as a workhorse.
“I am pretty new at this sport. I just started throwing javelin two years ago and I’m still learning a lot, but she, for all of us, is a great example to watch during practice,” Coopman said. “I learned a lot just by watching her throw because she is so technically sound.”
Wright gives a lot of credit to her javelin coach Eloise Cappellano because without her, she would have not been able to throw this far, Wright said.
“We are lucky to have [Wright] at Whitworth. She’s been a great addition to this program and is going to have an unbelievable college career,” Coopman said. “She already set the school record and is an All-American, but she’s going to continue to excel in this sport and definitely has the potential to compete after college.”
VanHoomissen said that the Whitworth coaches are there to set her up for success.
“She will be a national champion each year, I would love to see that from her, and for her marks to continue to improve that she could go to the National Championships and eventually the Olympic trials,” Cappellano said. “It’s very doable for her; she’s capable of it and is the one to make it happen.”
Jessica Razanadrakoto Staff Writer