BEREA, Ohio -- Athletes come to expect pain at some point in their careers, but special ones learn to shake off the effects of injuries and illnesses and find ways to still compete at a high level, and that is exactly what Kim Gallavan did at the NCAA Division III Indoor National Championships last weekend.
With injuries severe enough to cause Gallavan to need a walking boot after competing, the senior athlete from Auburn Township and Kenston High School won both the weight throw and shot put and helped Baldwin Wallace University win the women’s indoor track-and-field national championship for the very first time.
“Honestly, it just takes a lot of determination and just having the great support group that I have within my teammates, my coach, just everyone that’s around me at the time, and continuing to be the best that I can at all times and just push through everything,” Gallavan said.
“I’m just feel so grateful for all of the opportunities I’ve had. Coming here was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Just the biggest thing I took from this weekend was just knowing that the team was behind me 100 percent. We had a few of our throwers and a sprinter come out to watch us, and that really helped make me really excited for the competition and go to the best of my ability.”
On the first day of competition, two Yellow Jackets, Gallavan and sprinter/jumper Melanie Winters, not only earned All-American status, but won individual national championships.
Gallavan won the weight throw with a toss of 62 feet, nine inches. A two-time Ohio Athletic Conference Indoor Women’s Field Athlete of the Year, Gallavan surpassed her previous personal best by almost two feet.
During the second day of competition, Gallavan won the shot put with a personal-record throw of 48-feet, three inches, en route to earning her fifth All-American honor.
“Where to start with Kim?” throws coach Kevin Phipps said. “The hardest worker I know. I could say that about a lot of kids in our group absolutely, but Kim just has that hunger and that drive to be the best she can be, and she competes for herself, she competes for our program extremely well. Her passion for the sport, her willingness to learn has just been tremendous, and getting that experience with her over four years to kind of come together at a meet like that and win a National Championship, no one deserves it more than her.
“To get to that meet, the hay’s in the barn. All the work’s done. It’s time to perform and she saw the door and kicked it open, took advantage of that. All the work she’s put in, she’s fighting through injury right now, she fought through injury at the championship and throughout this year, and never let up. She continued to work and push herself harder than she ever has. It feels real special to be a part of it, absolutely.”
Despite the Yellow Jackets having just three athletes qualify for the National Championships, Gallavan believed the team had enough talent to accomplish something special.
And she proved prophetic, as all three competitors, which included junior high-jumper Erin Kasper along with Gallavan and Winters, earned All-American status and combined for three individual titles en route to the team championship.
“I had a really good feeling that it was going to go well altogether,” Gallavan said. “Melanie, obviously, had a fantastic weekend. She has proven over and over again what she can do. Erin also had a very good weekend. Just qualifying the week before, it was really impressive for her to get to that podium as well. Honestly, we took in as much confidence as we could and just ended up doing really well.”
After winning two national titles, Gallavan was named the Women’s National Field Athlete of the Year and the Women’s Field Outstanding Performer at the NCAA Championships by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
And Gallavan believes she has what it takes to carry the momentum into the outdoor season, where she is the defending OAC champion in the discus throw, a three-time all-conference performer in the discus, hammer throw and shot put and an All-American in the discus.
“Absolutely,” Gallavan said. “That’s completely possible just in the fact that there’s just so much adrenaline still running through my body that even adding another event and changing from a 20-pound weight to an eight-pound hammer, it’s all about adrenaline, taking in a little technique that changes within hammer, and just going in and doing what I know how to do because it’s all engrained in my brain anyway. Being able to go out the next weekend after nationals is huge.”