Kennedy Blahnik will be competing Tuesday in the World Youth Track and Field Trials in Edwardsville, Ill.
It’s a fitting postseason meet for the top high school thrower in the state to take part in considering her season began with a frustrating bout of trial and error.
After giving a verbal commitment to the University of Wisconsin in January, the Algoma junior took up a suggestion from one of her future coaches and tried to change her approach to the shot put from a glide to a spin release.
But given she had injuries to both of her knees in the past year and didn’t start throwing until April after helping the Wolves’ girls basketball team win the WIAA Division 4 state title, it was probably a bad time to attempt to make a switch.
Blahnik tried the spin in the first meet of the year and won the shot put with a toss of 39 feet, 2½ inches, which was the first throw of her high school career that didn’t reach 40 feet.
“It definitely wasn’t working out for me, so we just went back to what I knew,” Blahnik said.
Blahnik went on to become a three-time WIAA Division 3 state champion in the shot put and discus, breaking her state records with her final throw in each event.
For her efforts, Blahnik is the Press-Gazette Media girls track and field athlete of the year for a second consecutive season.
“I think that’s what drove that final throw,” she said. “The frustration of the whole season not going how I wanted it to went into it.”
Although Blahnik went undefeated at meets and was atop the state honor roll for both events again this season, the chances of her resetting the D3 shot put record (47-11) seemed bleak with a season-high throw of 46-1 entering state.
The outlook remained the same after her first five throws at state produced a top distance of 45-11.
However, her final attempt turned out to be the second-farthest throw all-time in the state with a distance of 49-1½.
Blahnik, who was named the Gatorade Wisconsin girls track and field athlete for a second consecutive season, also broke her D3 discus record the following day with a toss of 154-3.
“Even people that don’t know the shot put but were just watching and observing saw how fast she went across that ring and just exploded,” said Algoma throws coach Dean Blahnik, who is Kennedy’s father. “I knew when it left her hand that it was going to go somewhere.”
The next place Blahnik could go after the World Trials could be Ukraine if she’s selected to compete for Team USA on July 10-14 at the IAAF World Youth Track and Field Championships.
As far as the spin release, she plans to revisit it college.
Blahnik will keep the same approach for her senior year when she’ll be going after the WIAA state record for all divisions in the shot put (49-4¼) and discus (169-10).
“Winning eight (state) titles has been a goal since I won my first two, but I want those records,” Blahnik said. “It’s pretty much in my power if it happens or not.”