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Bremerton javelin throwner Kyle Kennedy ready for state championships
Kyle Kennedy can lift more weight than most of his teammates, but his technique throwing spears is what makes him a strong competitor.
The Bremerton High School junior will compete Friday in the javelin event at the Class 3A state track and field championships at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma, joining more than 20 Central Kitsap and Bremerton track athletes who will participate in a state competition this weekend.
This will be Kennedy’s third consecutive appearance at state, an accomplishment that in large part can be credited to the athlete’s improved throwing motion.
“You’ve got to have the perfect technique,” said Kennedy, a muscular football player who at last year’s state championships finished fifth in the javelin behind champion Robert Hintz of Bellevue High School. “He wasn’t the strongest guy, but he had the best technique out of everybody.”
In a sport that requires speed, strength and mental focus, Kennedy has found more success than most by continually improving. Although he has yet to perfect the throwing motion of the 800-gram javelin, Kennedy’s marks continue to improve and he is learning how to adapt to different scenarios.
One is to point the tip of the javelin at an angle between 45 and 47 degrees upon release when there is little or no wind. Another is to keep the tip down and throw the javelin closer to the ground when there is a headwind, a tactic that reduces draft and increases distance.
That knowledge, coupled with his strength and athleticism, helped Kennedy secure a Class 3A West Central District III championship last weekend. He won the title with a throw of 186 feet, 11 inches, a personal best this season.
“When you get to that point, out into the range where he is, the progress is pretty hard to come by generally,” head coach Lloyd Pugh said. “He’s been very consistent.”
The first-place finish at districts means Kennedy is a frontrunner to finish on the podium at state. He took ninth as a freshman in 2008 and fifth in 2009. Now his goal is to place in the top three.
To accomplish that feat, however, Kennedy may have to throw the javelin farther than he has all season.
Entering the weekend competition, Kennedy has the sixth-best distance in the state among 3A competitors. Malaki Seanoa of Everett High School holds the state’s top 3A throw at 200-11, followed by the 197-10 of Luke Evans of North Central High School.
But since many variables affect the javelin competition — weather, for one — those numbers don’t necessarily indicate where each athlete will finish.
Kennedy has been throwing in rain and wind for the better part of two weeks, conditions that equate to lower distances. During practice the week leading into districts, his marks suffered.
“They weren’t quite where we would have liked them to be,” said throw coach Kaelea Makaiwi, who has worked with Kennedy the past two seasons. “But I kept telling him, ‘It’s the weather, we’ll get it, don’t worry, you need to peak at the right time.”
Kennedy may have one advantage over some of his state competitors — he is familiar with the facilities at Mount Tahoma. That’s where he competed at districts a week ago. And It’s also the stadium where the state meet has been the past two seasons.
Couple that with the experience of competing in two previous state meets, and Kennedy has reason to be confident.
“I know what’s going to happen and I know the competition,” he said. “I have a feeling I’m going to do pretty good.”