Rogers senior Kelly Hughes traveled from Western to Eastern Washington to become the Greater Spokane League’s best discus thrower.
Now, if the throwing cage stays out of the way, there’s a good chance she’ll return as a state participant.
Last year Hughes lost only one league match and qualified first to regionals with a 129-foot throw. In the state qualifying meet, however, she was aced out of a spot by teammate Fawn Gray whom she had beaten throughout the year.
“I was told all last season I’d make it to state and was finally believing it,” said Hughes. “The smallest little thing changed the meet.”
She focused on the purple tie-dyed shirt of a person who was measuring the throws. The discus, she said, went into the protective net around the throwing circle across from where he was standing. The best she could manage was a throw of 120-1. She wound up fifth.
“I thought I’d die,” said Hughes. “I’ve always lived to throw. It’s a huge part of my life.”
She began throwing when she was a student at Sequim Middle School, a town on the Washington coast. She qualified for state as a freshman shotputter but after that, lost interest in the event in favor of the discus.
“There’s more fluency. It’s prettier,” she said. “It’s not so brutal as throwing a big heavy ball into a glop of dirt.”
A classmate, B.J. Schade, who currently competes at Washington State, was her role model.
“He was so light on his feet,” she said. “We’d watch on videos. Everyone was in awe of him.”
When her mother got a job offer in Kennewick her sophomore year, Hughes opted instead to live with friends and attend Rogers.
“Kennewick is in the middle of nowhere,” she said of her decision.
Hughes has never been shy about trying new things. She has enlisted in the Army Reserve’s delayed entry program and after graduation will depart for Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri to become a general construction heavy equipment operator.
She’ll work summers in construction and throw the discus in college.
This year, new throwing coach Arnie Tyler Jr. has altered her style. When she gets stressed and has a tendency to foul, he has her run 30-yard sprints to relax.
Hughes has been at 125-feet or farther in all but one meet. Included is a personal best 130-1, some 17 feet farther than her nearest competitor in the GSL, and several over 129-0.
“She’s been pretty consistent,” said Pirate girls team coach Shaney Redmon. “When you’re consistent you get a big throw. I think she can go 140-feet.”
Last weekend she finished sixth in the Lake Washington Invitational against some of the state’s better athletes.
“I threw three into the steel posts,” said Hughes. “It reminded me of regionals but I didn’t let it affect me.”
That was a big step for someone who has set a goal of throwing 145-feet and reaching state this year.
“I know I’m capable,” Hughes said. “I know what I want to accomplish and am going to accomplish it.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo
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