Wisconsin’s Kelsey Card Stands Alone In Collegiate History
Kelsey Card had company in collegiate history until this past weekend.
Following the Big Ten Outdoor Track & Field Championships, she’s all alone.
Card and Arizona great Meg Ritchie were the only women to surpass 18.50 meters (60-8½) in the shot put and 61 meters (200-1) in the discus throw during their careers. Ritchie is the longtime collegiate record holder in both disciplines and Card is currently the eighth best all-time performer in the shot put.
Then Card, who is a fifth-year senior at Wisconsin, did something no one — not even Ritchie — did before. Card added a 60-meter hammer throw to the equation in Lincoln, Nebraska, becoming the only woman in collegiate history with titanic marks in all three.
Come to think of it: Is there anything Card couldn’t propel hundreds of feet?
“Kelsey has a good sense of where her body is and knows how to deliver an implement,” Wisconsin throws coach Dave Astrauskas said. “If I gave her a bowling pin, steel bar, javelin or anything else, she could throw it a long way. The only reason we haven’t tried her out in the javelin is because I don’t want to throw off the rest of her form.”
Chances are that Card would take well — and adapt — to any technique Astrauskas taught her since she showed that propensity when she converted from a “glider” to a “spinner” in the shot put halfway through her sophomore year with the Badgers. Card had impeccable balance and ring awareness from years of throwing the discus (picked it up in fifth grade at the urging of her parents), so the transition was easy.
But the balancing act between her academic, athletic and social lives proved to be more difficult. The now-senior from the tight-knit community of Plainview, Illinois, let outside factors impact her athletic performance and found herself dreading practice, rather than enjoying it, during her first two years in Madison.
So, at the start of her third year, Card sought the help of a sports psychologist. The time Card spent breaking down her mental barriers directly correlated to her improvement in the cage, circle and ring.
“She (the sports psychologist) made a huge impact on my career,” Card said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without her. It also reaffirmed my desire to be a school counselor and help people work through their issues after I graduate.”
The difference between Card’s marks as a sophomore in 2013 and a redshirt junior in 2015 (she sat out the 2014 cycle) were astronomical. Card went from a personal best of 16.85m to 17.96m in the shot put and 54.43m to 59.91m in the discus throw.
Last year nearly had a storybook ending for Card as she finished runner-up to Raven Saunders and Shelbi Vaughan in the shot put and discus throw at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
Card parlayed that success into a strong offseason and an impressive indoor campaign where she led the nation in the weight throw. Unfortunately disappointment followed in Birmingham, Alabama, where she struggled and took 13th at NCAAs (fifth in shot put).
Yet it’s how Card responded to that adversity that let Astrauskas know his pupil was ready for incredible things come spring.
“We wanted to perform better, no doubt, and we agreed there were things we both could have done differently leading up to it,” Astrauskas said. “We had a very productive talk about what we needed to do in the future and that spoke volumes about Kelsey’s maturity and her ability to look at the bigger picture.”
That focus led Card to a monstrous outdoor season. She enters next week’s NCAA Prelims tops in the nation in the discus throw (62.22m/204-2) and second in the shot put (18.56m/60-10¾).
Despite her lofty standing and seemingly direct route to Eugene, Oregon, Card knows she can’t get too ahead of herself, though.
“I’m just taking it one step at a time and controlling what I can control,” said Card, who enjoys grilling, even in sub-zero temperatures. “I want to build on what I did last year.”