There could be no bigger thrill, even for one of the top high school heptathletes in the nation, than finding out her idol knows who she is.
There Keira McCarrell was, meeting Brianne Theisen-Eaton at the World Indoor Championships in Portland.
West Salem High School’s standout junior – known in high school competition as one of the top javelin throwers in Oregon – was just hoping to get a picture with one of the best female athletes in the world when Theisen-Eaton surprised her.
“I’ve heard of you and I know you’re an up and coming multi,” Theisen-Eaton told her.
Yes, McCarrell is already a national champion javelin thrower, one of the top high school heptathletes – she placed third in the 15-16 age group last summer – and trains a couple times a week with Olympian Ryan Bailey and professional sprinter Joe Morris.
But when Thiesen-Eaton informed her she knows who she is, she was blown away.
“I was just so excited, I couldn’t even talk,” McCarrell said.
Though McCarrell is not built like a lot of top javelin throwers, she makes up for it with relentless work and an undying desire to obtain perfect form.
She placed second in the 6A state meet as a junior with a throw of 140 feet.
She’s focused on improving her speed in the offseason, and that has already translated during the high school season as she came achingly close to breaking West Salem’s school record of 5-3 in the high jump in the team’s opening meet.
“From a technical standpoint she’s improved a ton, and just really her confidence and staying calm and in the moment and not getting too caught up on I just missed this or I didn’t jump as well or threw as well as I could have,” West Salem coach Erich Herber said.
While McCarrell is known in high school as being a javelin thrower, her future likely is in the heptathlon.
She has a personal record of 4,354 in Junior Olympic competition and has shown great skill in many of the events including the long jump, high jump, 200 and 100 hurdles.
Really there is not a lot in track and field that McCarrell doesn’t do well.
“Certainly being on a national stage like Junior Nationals opens a lot of doors, and I hope that she takes advantage of it and goes and enjoys herself somewhere,” West Salem throws coach Derek Bruey-Finck said.
“She’s not just limited in javelin. She is the proverbal heptathlete who can basically do it all. If I had a charter school I could start a track team with Keira. It would be great. I’ll teach her English and she can be my athlete, it will be great. We’ll win a championship one or two years and she’ll be gone.”
Though McCarrell has turned out to be one of the top high school heptathletes in the nation, she will only compete in one this year, that coming in two weeks in Arcadia, California.
Instead she has committed to competing for Team Canada – she was born in Vanderhoof, British Columbia, lived a few years there and has dual citizenship – in the summer.
She will compete in the javelin at Canada’s World Juniors tryouts, which coincides with Canada’s Olympic Trials, in Edmonton in early July with an eye on competing in the World Juniors later in July in Poland.
“I’m kind of thankful that I can only narrow it down on javelin after that because I won’t be doing any more heps like later on after high school season so that’s pretty nice,” said McCarrell, whose father Kevin is Chemeketa’s women’s basketball coach.
bpoehler@StatesmanJournal.com, 503-399-6701 or Twitter.com/bpoehler
Boys track and field
Greater Valley: A West Salem team highlighted by state cross country champion Ahmed Muhumed is the favorite to win the conference again. Sprague returns a strong group of junior throwers including state placer Austin Kleinman, Kyle Rosenau and Keaton Beckmann. McNary’s group of sprinters including Brendan Van Voorhis and Austin Brown will make the team’s relays among the best in the state.
Mid-Willamette: Lebanon is the returning state champion, but Silverton has a group of state qualifying athletes in Brock Rogers, Sam Roth, Austin Haskett, Shon Ackermann, Cole Myers and Brandon Bates and could challenge for the top spot.
Oregon West: Newport is the returning district team champion, but Cascade has a strong group of athletes who could move the team up in John Schirmer, Austin Martin, Lucas Bjorklund, Nate Lack and Brandon Martin.
West Valley: Taft returns a strong group of sprinters and has the potential to repeat as district champions.
PacWest: Blanchet has won the past two district championships and looks to make it three in a row behind district 800 meter champion Daniel Whittle and a strong group of upperclassmen including Patrick Tuttle, Kevin McCarthy, Alex McArthur and Zion Steiner.
Tri-River: Regis returns three of the four members of its state champion 1,600 relay team – Sam Nieslanik, Eric Gustin and Brendon Woodcock – along with state placers Austin Voltin and Josh Mumey and will contend with Central Linn for the top spot in the conference.
1A Special District 1: Crosshill Christian returns state runner-up high jumper Matthew Gille and has the athletes to place in the top three in the league this season.
Girls track and field
Greater Valley: West Salem’s mix of successful upperclassmen – including Brooke Chuhlantseff, Keira McCarrell and Angela Mumford – makes the Titans the favorite to win the district championship again. Sprague returns district champion triple jumper Leah Oivio along with promising freshman Ginger Murnieks and will be at the top of the conference again. McNary returns district champion 800 meter runner Kailey Doutt and has the depth to be a contender in the team race.
Mid-Willamette: Silverton has the talent to challenge for the top spot in the conference with a deep group including district champion cross country runner Maddie Fuhrman and state qualifiers in Leah Doeden, Desiree Sinn and Madi Arrington.
Oregon West: Cascade has a tough team with state medalists including Danielle Haddix, Elisa Kanoff, Christy Seaton, Kalulu Nggaida and has the potential to win the district championship for the second year in a row.
West Valley: Amity returns a strong and deep group headlined by Oregon State commit and four-time state champion thrower Lindsay McShane and is the favorite to win the conference for the second year in a row.
PacWest: Blanchet has turned into a powerhouse in the conference with six consecutive conference titles. The team returns district champions in sprinter Emily Collier, thrower Lani Salang, high jumper Nina Nakamura and its entire 400 relay team including Anna Duncan and Annie Ruef.
Tri-River: Kennedy is the returning district champion and has a big group of younger runners including Kaylin Cantu who will score points at the state level. St. Paul has a strong group of seniors including Sydney Brentano, McGwire Smith and state runner-up thrower Emma Coleman.
1A Special District 1: Crosshill Christian returns a promising group of juniors including sprinter Haley Foster and distance runner Hannah Schanz and will be in the top five of the conference.