Thursday, December 16, 2010

Walter sets the tone for Northwest women’s track

MARYVILLE, Mo. — In her first indoor meet of the season, senior Kate Walter gave sort of a shrug of the shoulders response to her performance.

While Walter was pleased that her throw of 53-feet-1-inch in the weight throw at the Holiday Preview at Iowa State on Friday was good enough to earn a provisional qualification for the national meet, she was looking for an even better result.

“I was pleased but definitely not content,” Walter said. “It is always a challenge. I always have a mental block at Iowa State for some reason.”

Walter, a 2007 graduate of St. Mary’s High School in Independence, Mo., didn’t achieve her current level of proficiency in the weight throw by being satisfied.

She arrived at Northwest Missouri State without a track scholarship. But she already had a good idea of what it took to succeed at a high level.

Besides competing in track and field in high school, Walter was also a member of the volleyball team that traditionally is a contender to reach the Missouri Class 2 state tournament.

In Walter’s senior year, St. Mary’s made it to the semifinals. Walter was the setter.

“Ten of the 14 players were seniors so we kind of knew we had to go out with a bang,” she said.
The focus in track, she said, is a bit different. You are on a team in track, but it is an individual sport.
You get exactly what you put in. You can’t take shortcuts and hope your teammates pull you through.
Walter, though, was up for the challenge.

“I was a walk-on,” she said. “I thought I would try out and see where it took me. I have earned scholarship money. It is very uplifting. It is a personal reward.”

In high school in Missouri there is no weight throw or hammer throw in outdoor track. It’s not an easy throw to learn.

It has taken Walter three years to really understand the technique necessary to have national-level tosses.
For Walter, she had to work extra hard because of her size. She stands at 5-5 and weighs less than 200 pounds.

“It’s kind of hard to counter the weight versus girls who are 5-10 or taller and over 200 pounds,” Walter said.

But she’s doing it because of one part that is impossible to measure with the eye.

“She has a bigger heart. She wants it more,” said Northwest assistant track coach Tessa Koschel.

Walter also has help. Assistant track coach Paul McKim, who handles the throwers, provides the proper encouragement when Walter needs it.

“He inspires her and believes in her,” Koschel said. “When she is quick to get upset with herself, he is quick to remind her how good she is.”

Walter’s main goal during the indoor season is to reach the national meet. She’s made it to nationals twice during the outdoor season. Now she wants to experience the national indoor meet.

A year ago Walter missed going to the indoor national meet in the weight throw by two spots.

She clearly understands she has to keep improving if she wants to make sure she’s not two spots shy this season.

“I’m at the very bottom of the list,” Walter said. “I’m eighth out of the other girls. Just to be on the list this early is good. I wasn’t at this point last year.”

The work that Walter puts in to try to achieve her goal will ultimately help the team. It goes beyond scoring points.

Koschel said the Bearcats are really young so Walter’s work-ethic will only help the freshmen and sophomores looking to make an impact.

“The goal is to always score points in conference and get on the national list individually,” Koschel said. “If we do that as individuals then we will come out strong as a team. We’ve talked as a team to be accountable for yourself and your teammates.”

Walter already fits that description.

“She means everything,” Koschel said. “She sets the example of where you need to be, physically, mentally and emotionally to be successful in track and field.”

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