Profile: NSIC ‘Newcomer of the Year’

Allison Mueller

First-year student Kathleen Taylor won the NSIC Conference “Newcomer of the Year” award on March 1 for her work in shot put and weight throwing on the Winona State Track and Field team. (Photo contributed by Mike Turgeon)
First-year student Kathleen Taylor won the NSIC Conference “Newcomer of the Year” award on March 1 for her work in shot put and weight throwing on the Winona State Track and Field team. (Photo contributed by Mike Turgeon)

Elizabeth Pulanco / Winonan

At the beginning of March, Winona State University first-year student Kathleen Taylor was awarded the NSIC “Newcomer of the Year” award. Taylor also qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships in shot put and is currently ranked seventh in the nation.

Taylor, a Hayward, Wisc. native, has been throwing for six years, after first watching her older brother participate in track and field.

She was recruited by associate athletic director and associate head track and field throwing coach Mike Turgeon to participate in the track and field team. Turgeon has been a part of Taylor’s development as an athlete.

“He is a really good coach and he’s really good at adapting to different types of learning and he has really helped me since I’ve been here,” Taylor said.

Turgeon said he first noticed Taylor’s work ethic when she began going to the throwing camps hosted by the Winona State throws team in March. Taylor started attending the camps her first year of high school and continued attending them until graduation.

“It was her first year of throwing. She kept asking during her lunch break and other breaks that we had about different drills she could do,” Turgeon said. “Coming from a 14-year-old, it was very impressive. She continued going to the throwing camps for four years and she worked so hard and made constant improvements.”

According to Turgeon, Taylor, who stands at 5 feet and 9 inches, has the perfect stature for a thrower.

“What you are looking for in a thrower, is somebody who is tall and has long arms. The average person’s wingspan is the same as their height, and Katie’s wingspan is 6 feet and 5 inches,” Turgeon said.

Turgeon also said Taylor’s major in college has also contributed to her success in throwing.

“She’s a physics major, and throwing is all physics, so that helps her out too,” Turgeon said.

The “Newcomer of the Year” award is voted on by the 15 coaches in the conference, Turgeon said, and both Taylor and her team were shock and proud that she won.

“I was really excited to be the ‘Newcomer of the Year’ for the whole conference. We have a really good conference, so that made it even better, I wasn’t expecting anything like it,” Taylor said.

Brea Perron, a first-year student also on the throws team, said she was happy to share Taylor’s excitement.

“Getting to share in her excitement not only for breaking her own personal record but as a freshman winning something as big as Newcomer of the Year was really fun to watch,” Perron said.

While on the throws team together, Perron and Taylor have been able to become friends and are planning on living with another first-year student on the team next year.

“As a friend, she is somebody that I can go and talk to when I need to,” Perron said. “Having only met her this year, it is really nice to have somebody as kind as she is.”

After winning the award, Taylor is determined to keep working on improving her performance both on and off the track.

“I’ve always been really determined to make my four years here the best that I could,” Taylor said. “My coach is really pushing us to make sure we are doing our homework and studying, along with making sure we do the best that we can on the track.”

Both Perron and Turgeon are excited to see what Taylor accomplishes in the future.

“I am looking forward to see how we push each other,” Perron said. “Getting to practice with girls who are top in the nation every single day has been an incredible experience and has made me a better athlete.”

As her coach, Turgeon is looking forward to seeing how Taylor will move forward in her athletic career.

“I think Kathleen is going to set herself up to be one of the nation’s top throwers by the time she’s a senior in college,” Turgeon said. “She’s really dedicated for a freshman and is just getting better every day.”

By Elizabeth Pulanco