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From high school track’s biggest stage to NAIA’s

Bethany’s Kristen Herzet in hunt for NAIA title

Staff writer

At the outset of her high school track career in 2013, throwing events were the last thing 2016 Marion High graduate Kristen Herzet was interested in.

Coming off a junior high career competing strictly as a runner, the freshman Herzet believed lacked the size to be effective.

Warrior track coach Grant Thierolf got a good idea Herzet could be special during swim team season.

Herzet’s explosiveness off the blocks and quick, powerful kicks that led Thierolf to pass word on he’d found his next thrower.

Also there to affirm Thierolf’s belief and assure Herzet she could do it was legendary Marion track coach, Rex Wilson.

Five years later, a doubting high school freshman has transformed into an effective thrower at Bethany College in Lindsborg.

Now a sophomore and a first-team All-American, the former Warrior standout will compete this weekend at the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Mickey Miller Blackwell Stadium in Gulf Shores, Alabama in discus.

“Qualifying for nationals doesn’t seem real,” said Herzet. “That’s the ultimate goal as a college athlete, to go and compete against the best.

“All it takes is one great throw to place you on a podium, or win an event, whether it’s nationals, a high school state meet, or a small quad.”

Competing in front of a large crowd won’t likely intimidate Herzet.

As a three-time state high school track qualifier, she’s done it before with success.

After getting a taste of the state meet as a sophomore, Herzet bettered her mark a year later by taking fifth.

Proving she certainly had the strength, Herzet captured the state powerlifting title her senior year en route to outdoing the competition in discus.

All except one.

A storm began brewing nearly 100 miles to the north in Beloit in the shape of then-sophomore Sydney Johnson.

Arguably one of the state’s greatest discus throwers and front-runner in all classes by over 15 feet, the 6-3 Missouri Tiger bound giant Johnson won the first of what’s likely to be three straight titles.

In a mirrored image of what her high school career was like, Herzet just missed qualifying for nationals as freshman.

The jump was hardly easy as Herzet went from winning most meets to competing against herself just to improve.

This spring, sophomore Herzet qualified for the NAIA’s biggest meet way back in March, and by finishing second in the KCAC, May 3-4.

With a trio of first place finishes throughout the season, Herzet’s best throw came March 15th at the Southwestern College Invitational in Winfield.

The 146-foot throw was only good for second place in a loaded field, and briefly had Herzet in the NAIA’s top 10.

“I’m so excited,” said Herzet. “It’s an honor to not only represent Bethany, but I get to represent my hometown on a national level.”

Regardless the outcome of her first trip to nationals, if her collegiate career is anything like high school, Herzet has two years left to improve.

Last modified May 23, 2018

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