Kim Dekrey had a big decision to make at the end of her junior year: keep running hurdles, which she had done most of her athletic career, or delve into an event with which she wasn’t familiar, the hammer throw. After participating in both events all year, Dekrey had realized she wasn’t improving at either one.
The obvious choice for Dekrey would have been to stick to the hurdles. However, what might be obvious might not always be right. Dekrey opted to devote herself to the hammer throw and after less than one year throwing the hammer she will represent FIU at the NCAA Regionals on Friday in Greensboro, North Carolina.
“I wasn’t improving in either the hurdles or the hammer last year,” Dekrey said. “I figured I had more potential in the hammer.”
Even when Dekrey solely ran the hurdles, FIU assistant track and field coach Ryan Heberling, who coaches the throwers, noticed Dekrey was one of the stronger athletes on the team. Dekrey regularly was among the top lifters in the weight room. Dekrey improved her power clean from 135 to 185 pounds before the season.
“Physically, Kim always had the perfect fit for being a thrower,” Heberling said. “She always showed the strength in the weight room.”
Initially when Heberling asked Dekrey if she wanted to be a thrower, the senior from Gainesville declined wanting to keep running the hurdles. Dekrey did dabble in the hammer her last two years. She would heave a couple of throws at practice, but immediately returned to running the hurdles.
However, when Dekrey concentrated on the hammer she flourished. Dekrey had the longest throw at the FIU Felsberg Invitational on March 14. The following week at the UCF Invitational she won the event with a then-personal best mark of 53.64m. One week later at the Florida Relays, in her hometown of Gainesville, Dekrey broke her personal-best with a throw of 54.70m to place second in one of the more prestigious track and field meets in Florida.
Besides putting on the muscle that helped Dekrey become one of the top throwers in the NCAA, she watched plenty of video of the other top college throwers.
“In the videos I was looking to see how much faster I can move the ball and quicken my feet,” Dekrey said. “A lot of it is hip power so working out on the clean and jerk, the power clean and snatches is a lot of the same power that you use to throw the hammer. I was able to get my power clean to be the third highest on the team. That made me more confident that I’m as strong as the other girls.”
Dekrey also used some of her hurdles training in the hammer.
“I think the speed I developed from the hurdles helps me in the hammer,” Dekrey said. “Also when you go at the hurdles you have to be very aggressive and I think that carries over to the hammer.”
Dekrey also leaned on her boyfriend, University of Florida hammer thrower, Jeremy Postin, who is ranked the No. 1 hammer thrower in the country and will compete at the same NCAA Regional as Dekrey.
“Jeremy inspired me,” Dekrey said. “He watches videos of other hammer throwers and that got me into watching videos. When I saw how far he’s gotten that made me believe that it was possible.”
It turns out both Dekrey and Postin have more in common than just the hammer throw. Both were high school athletes in other sports, who were on their way to college scholarships before each tore their knees twice. Dekrey was a former soccer player, who tore her left knee twice in high school. Postin was a former football player, who also tore his knee twice.
Both Dekrey and Postin had to walk-on to their respective track teams before earning a scholarship and both now are among the nation’s top throwers.
“I guess it is possible to come from nothing and turn it into something,” Dekrey said.
Eventually, Dekrey would again like to turn nothing into something when she is done with the hammer. Dekrey is an economics major at FIU, who has sales jobs lined up after she graduates later this year. Currently, in between the hammer and going to classes, Dekrey, who says she loves numbers, is a calculus tutor at FIU. She also wants to attend grad school with the goal of owning her own business one day.
But as for today goes, Dekrey is elated to be representing FIU at a place where at one time she only dreamed of being a participant.
“I never thought I would make regionals after one year of throwing,” Dekrey said. “I actually went to regionals last year in Jacksonville as a spectator and thought if only I was that good I could make it to regionals. It’s pretty cool.”
– By Pete Pelegrin