AFN file photo

Kayleigh Conlon spends most of her days spinning in circles, but not because she lacks direction or drive.

The Mountain Pointe High School senior continues to be one of the top throwers in the state after winning both the shot put and discus state titles as a junior.

She’s back at it again – winning the both titles at the 77th annual Chandler Rotary elite division over the weekend.

The Chandler Rotary is always a great litmus test for area competitors with about six weeks left in the regular season.

“It’s been a long process,” she said. “I’ve been getting better, working on my technique, but you don’t really ever perfect it. You are always tweaking and trying to get better. I work all year round and it’s still never enough.”

Saturday’s efforts were enough as Conlon was one of several local athletes to perform well at the state’s top regular season event.

She won the shot put with a throw of 42 feet to win by nearly two feet and then had a great day in the discus with a personal best distance of 150-7 to blow away the field by 12 feet.

Conlon was named the meet’s field MVP and set the meet record in the discus. She said one of the reasons she loves competing in throws is because she is always chasing that next great throw and increasing her marks.

“Any athlete will tell you they love competing and getting better,” Conlon said. “It’s what drives you, especially in shot and discus when it is just you and the distances.”

It is the second straight year that Conlon has doubled up at the Rotary and hopes it is a precursor of things to come at the state meets in May as she looks to defend her titles.

“There’s a lot more pressure now to get the marks up and trying to decide on a college,” she said. “I don’t feel that pressure when I competing. I just go through my routine and don’t worry about that kind of stuff then, but it can definitely weigh on you if you let it.”

Conlon, who has a top three of Colorado State, Cal State Northridge and Grand Canyon University, proved she can compete free and easy with the personal best in the discus, but came up short this season so far in shot put, where her personal best is 45-8.

“I’ve been working so hard on getting better,” she said. “My (throws) coach Joe Farinella has been a big influence. He’s helped me so much. Now I just have to keep getting better.”

Farinella said he expects Conlon to approach 160 in the discus and 50 in the shot by the end of the year because she has been able to clean up her technique to the point where it is becoming more text book to allow for bigger throws.

“Kayleigh is throwing well because she works hard at the fundamentals of the throw,” he said. “What has made it possible is, like most kids they grasp on one or two things, but build in their own quirks to the technique.

“She has slowly started to erase her own little quirks and getting more efficient with the fundamental throw.”

Desert Vista High distance runner Haley Wolf set a personal best time in winning the 3200 run with a time of 10 minutes 47.42, while junior Jaztyne Griffin was third in the discus with a personal best effort of 129-01 for the Thunder.

Thunder sophomore pole vaulter Sevanna Hanson won the event with height of 12-0, while the top performer on the boys side for Desert Vista was sprinter Ryan Bender, who finished third in the 100 (10.89 seconds) and fourth in the 200 (21.95).

Mountain Pointe had solid performances from horizontal jumper Nura Muhammad, who finished fourth in the long jump with a personal-best of 18-08.25, and third in the triple jump at 40-0.05.

Pride sophomore Matthew Pola-Mao finished fifth in the shot with a career-best throw of 53-01.50 and Brittany Patterson was fifth in the triple jump with a personal-best of 30-03.75 and seventh in the long jump (17-04.50).

While others had success at the Rotary, it was Conlon who came away as a double champion and record holder.

“We are working hard and she has great potential going forward,” Farinella said. “She’s actually blossomed into a good leader. I told her at the beginning of the year that one part of her next phase of her training was to leave the program in a better place than when she started.

“She is doing a good job of it and becoming a good mentor with a great work ethic, good grades and everything you want to see in senior leaders.”

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