Crystal Lake South junior Kianna Clark misses some of the real shot put competition at larger track and field meets.
When others are throwing, Clark often is elsewhere running.
Clark differs from most throwers. Instead of combining shot put with discus, she runs legs on the Gators’ 4x100- and 4x200-meter relay teams. In the McHenry County and Fox Valley Conference Meets, Clark was champion in both shot put and with South’s 4x100 relay team.
“I don’t think people think of a first-place shot putter as a really good sprinter,” said Gators junior Gaby DeJesus, who plays basketball with Clark and leads off the 4x100 relay. “She’s kind of one of a kind. It’s really cool.”
Clark and her teammates will compete at the Class 3A DeKalb Sectional Meet Thursday, with field events starting at 3 p.m. Clark has the area’s best shot put throw at 37-0 and the 4x100 team of DeJesus, Clark, Kathleen Pencak and Taylor Schau will have a good chance to qualify for the state meet. Those four set the McHenry County Meet record last month at 50.7.
Most of the area's Class 3A schools will compete at DeKalb, while all of the area's Class 2A schools will be at Woodstock.
“I’m extremely happy with where I’m at at this point,” Clark said. “It’s a great accomplishment to get firsts in shot and in running. It’s something you don’t see a lot.”
Clark always seems to be in motion with something. She plays soccer year-round with Crystal Lake Force’s 17U team, plays basketball in the winter and competes in track and field in the spring. She took her freshman year off from track to play soccer, but returned to track last year.
Soccer likely will be her sport in college, although her track success has her thinking.
“Track has infected me this season,” she said. “It might be a matter of finding a school that would let me do both.”
Clark proves her athletic versatility in every meet. She says lifting weights in P.E. class has been beneficial and appreciates her brother Zevin, a freshman running back at NCAA Division II West Virginia State, for providing an example. Zevin was a 1,000-yard rusher his senior year at South.
“It helped having an older brother who was so successful,” Kianna said. “I wanted to be able to accomplish things like he was able to. He was there pushing me. He sets the bar high and I want to be just as good.”
Gators coach Matt Dunker marvels at Clark’s prowess in two different events, although he sees a correlation.
“It helps her in both with the speed,” Dunker said. “When she goes fast in the ring, she throws better. She’s not the biggest girl out there, but she uses that speed and power that we love in the relay too.”
Dunker says South girls throws coach Patrick Frett has helped Clark a lot this season. The main drawback for Clark’s teammates is sometimes not getting to see her throw.
“I long jump while she throws, so we’re kind of running back and forth and meet in the middle for our relays,” DeJesus said.
Girls Sectional Meets
Class 1A Byron
Local teams competing: Alden-Hebron, Faith Lutheran.
Class 2A Woodstock
Local teams competing: Hampshire, Harvard, Johnsburg, Marengo, Marian Central, Richmond-Burton, Woodstock and Woodstock North.
Class 3A DeKalb
Local teams competing: Cary-Grove, Crystal Lake Central, Crytal Lake South, Huntley, Jacobs, McHenry and Prairie Ridge.
Class 3A Metea Valley
Local team competing: Dundee-Crown.