When it comes to sports, people have heard about athletes combining brains and brawn.

In the case of Courtney Kastelic, add beauty to the mix.

Last fall Kastelic wore the Desert Vista Homecoming Queen crown, sharing that royal honor with Ryne Rezac.

But Kastelic may be the only Homecoming Queen in the state that also throws the shot put and discus on a varsity track and field team.

“Yeah,” Kastelic said, “I guess no one would expect that.”

The 5-foot-11 Kastelic started playing volleyball in third grade, but discovered she had some talent in throwing the shot and discus through a Physical Education track and field program when she was in the seventh grade at Altadeña Middle School in Ahwatukee Foothills.

“We had a PE track and field unit, so I tried shot and discus and noticed that I was kind of good at it,” she said.

Her PE teacher, who was also the track coach, encouraged her to continue to pursue that talent.

Kastelic has been on the track and field team as well as the girls volleyball team at Desert Vista since her freshman season.

She is one of four throwers on the Thunder girls team that regularly qualify to earn invitations to track and field events throughout the season.

Courtney Darling, Kadie McNamara, Marissa Kase and Kastelic make up a powerful Desert Vista throwing team.

Kastelic threw the discus 123 feet, eight inches shorter than Darling at the Casa Grande Al Van Hazel Invitational at Casa Grande last week and has hurled the shot 36 feet this season.

At the state championships last season she was fourth in the discus and sixth in the shot.

“I like discus better,” she said. “It’s more like dance.”

She also took ballet in third grade, but doesn’t think that carried over to her form in discus.

Perhaps what makes Kastelic and the rest of the Desert Vista throwers notable are that they don’t fit the stereotype.

“You can be big, but without technique, you’re not going to be consistent,” Kastelic said. “There is strength involved, but without technique you’re not going to get better.”

And she has become better as she grows older and more experienced, according to Troy Hickel, who coaches throwers at Desert Vista.

“She’s a strong, multisport athlete,” Hickel explained, “but she’s also very coachable. It’s taken a while to develop. She didn’t have much of a throwing background so it took a little while to develop the body mechanics and muscle memory that don’t come naturally but that you have to have in all of these events.”

Good genes don’t hurt either, Hickel added.

And Kastelic has those.

Her father is a former professional hockey player who had seven seasons in the National Hockey League with the Washington Capitals and Hartford Whalers before a knee injury ended his career. He also played for the former Phoenix Roadrunners in the early 1990s and moved his family to Ahwatukee Foothills in 1998.

“She has come a long way and is certainly a tremendous young lady to work with, both as an athlete and a person,” Hickel said. “She’s one of our leaders out here.”

Kastelic is also a leader on campus where she takes honors classes along with athletics.

She was among those nominated by the Desert Vista faculty to be a candidate for the royal court.

Kastelic also works at an Ahwatukee Foothills Chinese restaurant, Beijing Beijing, during what little off season she has from athletics during the winter.

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