Kayleigh Conlon seeks a couple more medals this week competing in the shot put and discus on Wednesday (May 3) and Saturday (May 6) at the Division I state track and field meet at Mesa Community College. (Photo courtesy of Meisha Conlon)
Mountain Pointe senior Kayleigh Conlon was just one of the pack when she competed in her first state track meet as a freshman throwing the shot and discus in 2014. Today she's the leader of the pack when it comes to those events.
From a 15th-place finish in her first state meet in the shot to a state-record toss a couple weeks ago, Conlon has more to accomplish for herself and school - a second Division I title in the shot and discus and perhaps another record throw in the shot. Conlon competes in the shot put Wednesday (May 3) as prelims and some finals are contested at the Division I state meet at Mesa Community College. Conlon gets her chance on Saturday (May 6) to toss the discus when all remaining event finals come to pass.
Combining her dedication to her events with throws coach Joe Farinella's tutelage, they've formed an alliance yielding results that are over the top.
"We both started here four years ago, my freshman year," Conlon said. "I started throwing in seventh grade, but my coach in junior high just let me do my own thing. Coach has helped me keep building and building. I think I've made him a better coach, and he's shown me so much in technique and life styles. The best thing he's taught me is how to handle myself in competition. If I make a good throw, I should be able to come back and do even better with the next one."
Conlon was quite decent in the shot as a freshman. She threw just under 33 feet at the state meet that year with many throws during the season in the 34-to-35 foot range. Continued non-stop work in the weight room and on technique pushed her to almost 40 feet by the close of her sophomore year.
As a junior in 2016 she added another five feet with a personal best of 45-9. She won state that year with a toss of 45-3. Once a female prep thrower reaches the 40s they are pretty good. She's better than that now after a state-record throw of 47 feet, 9 1/2 inches on April 19 at the Tempe City Meet.
Now that Conlon has the state record, which she broke by 1/2 inch, Farinella believes the best is yet to come. Farinella came on board Mountain Pointe's coaching staff at the behest of head coach Tim O'Neil when he took over in 2014. Farinella and O'Neil trained together as decathletes in earlier times.
Farinella can't wait to see Conlon meet to meet, always believing her best is in the offing.
"In big meets she nearly always hits a PR," Farinella said. "You have to live it and breathe it. She does. I won't take credit for her. I've just been there to help.
"What makes her special is she's to the point she can analyze her throw and understand what she did correctly and what she did wrong. She picks it all up. Not many can figure out that second part quickly."
In her previous three state meets, Conlon has made the following progressions. Shot put -- 32-4 3/4 as a freshman, 37-7 3/4 as a junior (third place) and 45-3 last year (first). Discus -- 117-3 as a freshman (5th), 130-8 as a junior (second) and 131-10 last year (first).
At the prestiigious Arcadia Meet in California the first weekend of April, Conlon threw the shot 46-9 and discus 156-3 in the discus. Her PRs to date at the time. The throw of 156-3 in the discus is fourth-best all-time in the state.
"I'm not satisfied with the state record I have," Conlon said. "My goal is to better it again. I've chased that record four years. I want to break it again."
Conlon is still not committed to a college. She took a visit to Southern Illinois last weekend, squeezing it in before the state meet before things get really hectic with graduation.
Farinella is anxious to see where Conlon lands for her college career. She is more than ready for to arrive at the next level.
"She eats well, she sleeps well. and she prepares mentally well," Farinella said. "She's the ultimate athlete. A college that gets her will be a lucky one indeed."