Two years ago, Kalli Walker had no intention of turning out for track and field as a senior at Northwest Christian High School. Nor did she envision herself as a collegiate athlete at Saint Martin’s University.
Jump ahead to this weekend, where Walker, a 20-year-old redshirt freshman, will have her sights set on becoming the Saints’ first All-American in the women’s javelin at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships, hosted by Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. She is scheduled to compete at 11 a.m. (PDT) Saturday.
Looking back, Walker gets a good chuckle. That’s because, she says, her brothers, Adam and Grant, had better athletic traits growing up.
“Now, I’m the one who’s kept going,” Walker said.
Kalli Walker’s athletic résumé wasn’t much more than junior varsity basketball at River Ridge High School before transferring to Northwest Christian as a senior for the 2011-12 school year.
There, she was on varsity basketball and turned out for track for the first time because “all the basketball girls did track.”
Knee problems meant sprinting wouldn’t be her forte, so Navigators coach Mike Michael put a javelin in her hand.
The novice thrower had a top mark of 110 feet, 9 inches in high school and ended up placing seventh at the Class 2B state championships in 2012. Walker elected to attend SMU and redshirted.
Two years after first picking up the javelin, she has improved 40 feet. Her personal best of 150-5 last month at the Beach Invitational in Long Beach, California, is the 11th-best mark in Division II this spring. To gain All-America honors, she must finish in the top eight at the national meet.
It’s her confidence level that allows her to make the big-time throws “because of the confidence my coaches have in me,” said Walker, also SMU’s school record holder in the event.
Walker joins an elite list of Saints javelin throwers to make the national stage. She’s the third SMU javelin thrower in five years to qualify for nationals, joining Jillian Stray (2010) and Sam Hull (2011). The top eight at Saturday’s competition receive All-America honors.
“I never dreamed I would be where I am now,” she said.
DUNNINGTON, COLORADO MESA HEAD TO FINALS
Tyler Dunnington, a 2010 Shelton High School graduate, is a senior on the Colorado Mesa team that will play in the NCAA Division II Baseball Championship against St. Thomas Aquinas (New York) at 2 p.m. (PDT) Sunday in Cary, North Carolina.
Dunnington, a pitcher, is 2-0 with a 5.65 earned-run average in 12 appearances, including one start. His older brother, Jacob, is a pitcher in the San Francisco Giants organization.
REITEN GETS ZAGS TO WCC BASEBALL TOURNAMENT
Cabe Reiten, an Academy Northwest graduate in 2012 who played high school baseball at Olympia, drove in a career-high four runs Sunday in Gonzaga’s 13-10 win over No. 23 Pepperdine.
The Zags qualified for the West Coast Conference tournament, which starts Thursday in Stockton, California, and includes Pepperdine, Loyola Marymount and Santa Clara.
Reiten, an infielder, has started 50 games and is batting .236 with 21 RBIs. Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 firstname.lastname@example.org @MegWochnick theolympian.com/southsoundsports