BREMERTON — The throw of the round metal hammer, and its trailing steel wire and grip, wasn’t quite what Olympic College freshman Kaitlyn Paller wanted.
She tried again during a recent practice at Bremerton High. OK, that throw was better.
That’s what practice is for, to perfect your craft in order to have the chance to make the conference championships and win a title.
Paller completed that task in her first collegiate track and field meet at the Pacific Lutheran Open when she qualified for the Northwest Athletic Conference meet next month.
“My nerves just kind of shut my body down,” Paller recalled. “When they told me I also beat the school record … it was a big surprise to me.”
The freshman from Shelton said nerves were a factor and she decided to just let it all go in her first meet.
Paller is currently ranked No. 1 in the hammer (158-7), discus (124-0) and shot put (40-5). She was also recently named the NWAC female track and field athlete of the week.
Paller is still fairly new to throwing the hammer, she competed in the event her senior season. She likes the challenge, and with a dancer’s background, has learned quickly.
“My coaches always assured me that … one day it will just click,” she said, “and one day it did. On our first meet. It felt like the work was worth it.”
Kaitlyn won’t be the only Paller on the heat sheet for Olympic at the NWAC meet.
Kaitlyn’s older brother Colton, a sophomore, qualified in the discus, shot put and hammer and is ranked No. 1 in the discus and top five in the shot put and hammer.
Colton said he was happier his sister did so well more than his own results.
“It was a real crazy surprise,” he said. “She’s probably going to do a lot better than me, potential wise, so that’s really cool. She’s killing it. It’s going to be crazy to see where she ends up to be because the sky’s the limit I think.”
Olympic College track and field coach Jakan Austin said her work ethic is just like her brother’s.
“We’re dragging her out of the weight room, she’s dedicated, she’s always in the ice baths trying to get ready for the next day,” he said. “That’s Kaitlyn.”
Colton said his little sister has always had the potential.
“She’s not disappointing because she keeps throwing farther and farther,” he said. “She’s definitely going to be turning heads. Not only in NWACs. (For) a qualifier to not only place but potentially win all the throwing events, especially as a freshman, is pretty insane. She’s a go-getter.”
Kaitlyn said there might be some “little sis” mentality to always try and catch up to her brother.
“It’s good friendly competition but mostly he’s just supportive,” she said.
“I’m just excited for us, athletically, for the future,” Colton added. “It’s made our parents pretty proud of us and that’s what puts a smile on my face.”
Colton Paller recently committed to the University of Wyoming, a Division I program in Laramie and found the recruiting process stressful. When he arrived at Wyoming for his final visit he was surprised how much support there was for Wyoming athletics in the state.
“Their school is putting in a new sports complex and a new engineering complex,” he said. “It’s just one of those things where you just see it and you just know. It was almost like an epiphany.”
While Colton drew attention from various schools last season and this season, Austin said Colton wasn’t satisfied with his performance from last year’s NWAC and that has pushed him.
“We had that one-on-one talk at the championship … and he was in the weight room the next day,” he said. “He promised me he wants to go 1-1-1 in all three events, or top three.”
As the sun started to sink a little lower behind Bremerton’s athletic fields, Kaitlyn and Colton Paller were still working on their hammer technique. Still trying to find that one perfect throw.
— NWAC (@NWACSports) April 20, 2018