The 20-pound weight thudded across the turf, sending little black particles flying through the air. It soared over the walled barrier and into the water jugs, spraying liquid on a gaggle of cheering admirers. CSU thrower Kiah Hicks had just won the weight throw at the Mountain West Championships with a throw of 70 feet, 1.5 inches; 6 feet better than her previous personal best.
A throw that big is sending Hicks straight to the NCAA Championships in two weeks, and ranks her 7th in the nation for weight throw.
“Coming in, I had only thrown a 64 (feet), which was not even close to my goal, so I thought nationals just weren’t on the list,” Hicks said. “So it still blows my mind.”
Hicks says she had moved into first place with one more throw to go, but almost by default. There were some throwers who had been disqualified, and Hicks refused to leave doubt in anyone’s mind about who was the victor.
So it was on that last throw that she sent the weight into the water jugs, inviting her teammates to surround her in celebration. But more than her teammates were happy for her. Hicks is the type of athlete who receives accolades from her competition, and gives them as well.
“She is maybe unlike any athlete I have ever coached,” head coach Brian Bedard said. “She truly seems to love everything about competition — she cheers on her competitors in a genuine way. I’ve never coached anyone quite like that.”
Hicks followed up that performance the following day with a sixth-place finish in the shot put, and she hasn’t even touched the outdoor throwing field yet. Bedard is most looking to forward to seeing what more Hicks can accomplish during the outdoor season.
Hicks qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships each of the last two years in discus and shot put, but has never made it to the finals. Bedard is confident she will do it again, and maybe go all the way this time.
“Her best events are in the outdoor season,” Bedard says. “So I don’t know why she wouldn’t have a huge year for us and qualify in the outdoors, too.”
But no matter what happens, and what victories or struggles the remainder of the season bring Hicks, she will weather it with confidence and grace. She has her biggest support system with her wherever she goes — her teammates.
“It really is like your crazy, wild family,” Hicks says of her teammates, particularly the throwing crew. “Because of my teammates, I can always go to practice with a smile on my face. Even the days when nothing is going right, it’s just a blessing to have those people support me.”Collegian Reporter Cali Rastrelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @c_rasta5.