Multi-Disciplined

March 3, 2011

Matt Winkeljohn
Sting Daily

Still fresh off her school record-setting performance in the ACC Indoors Championship, Kayla McKeirnan is not surprised that she’s at the top of the Georgia Tech pentathlon charts.

The senior from Richland, Wash., is a little shocked, though, at what has become her favorite event among the five contested indoors. She’s come to love the 60-meter hurdles. Not so when she transitioned into the multi-discipline events (including the outdoors heptathlon) as a sophomore.

“I had never hurdled, even in high school. From sophomore year to this year, amazing,” said McKeirnan, who finished with 3,691 points in the pentathlon to knock former Yellow Jacket Lauren Reimer (3,659 in 2004) a notch lower in the school record book. “I really have come to enjoy the hurdles. I was scared to death of them sophomore year. They’re actually kind of fun.”

When she finished fourth in the ACC’s last week at Virginia Tech, McKeirnan set season bests in four of five events. That she was even competing in the multi was a mild surprise because that’s not what she came to Tech to do as an athlete.

“I did the heptathlon once in high school, freshman year, and I did pretty well so I thought maybe I could do it in college, but I was recruited for the 400 (meters) and the four by 400,” she said. “My freshman year I was four by 400, but I wasn’t scoring much so sophomore year I was like, `Can I try the multi?’ and my coach thankfully said yes.”

Her coach, assistant Adriane Lapsley, has helped McKeirnan along.

Although she began track in the first grade, when her father encouraged it, the nuances of the multi-discipline events make it different than others. Plus, she grew up thinking basketball was her best sport over track and soccer.

Good thing McKeirnan said she’s always been an effective multi-tasker, even away from athletics. On the track, she doesn’t work all events each day, but rather breaks them up to tackle a few at a time.

McKeirnan will graduate in May with a degree in management, then she’s take off on another chase. She fancies marketing and event management. To that end, she’s landed a 10-month internship with the Orange Bowl in south Florida.

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