by Rachel Anderson
Coming from a 2h high school in Salina, Utah and being the school’s all-around athlete, nothing stopped this small town girl when it came to trying something new and progressing with more confidence and success.
McKell Nielson competed in a variety of track events in high school such as the shot put, discus and the 400 and 800 meter until her dad so the potential she had as a javelin thrower.
“My dad told the track coach to have me try out the Javelin,” Nielson said. “He taught me how to throw before I threw it for the first time.”
As Nielson entered her first javelin event at the end of the season of her sophomore year, she was about to prove everyone wrong. Her first throw qualified her for the BYU’s invitational where other track and field participants were invited.
“I had no idea the potential I had for the javelin,” Nielson said. “I was a softball player my whole life so I’m a naturally strong thrower.”
Through the years, Nielson has proven herself more than just a qualifier of the BYU Invitational as a sophomore.
Nielson just finished up her third season at UVU with more surprises and excitement than she ever expected. She recently received the Great West Conference Female Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year award.
“It was a really big surprise,” Nielson said. “It’s an honor to get it, that’s for sure.”
Not only was Nielson a recipient of the GWC award, but she has also been ranked 25th in the nation for the javelin event.
“That was the biggest shock of my life,” Nielson said. “I had no idea I was ranked that high. Once I threw over 50 meters, everyone was freaking out and my coaches were checking the rankings. I had hit the Olympic B standard.”
Although Nielson didn’t make it to the Olympic trials this year, she was honored to be part of something that big with being only two people away from qualifying.
Nielson also became close to competing in nationals this season as she was only five places away from qualifying. Aside from the nationals,
“I really want to break my personal record again,” Nielson said. “I’d like to throw over 170 and make it to Nationals.”
Nielson expresses infinite gratitude towards her family and the constant love and support they have shown her throughout her track success.
“Both my parents taught me to never give up or quit,” Neilson said. “Thanks to them believing in me [including sisters and husband] I have been able to fulfill some big goals. I have come to realize how lucky I am to have a family that really cares about my success in throwing.”
Not only does Nielson thank her family, but she continues to express appreciation towards her coach John Kernan and track teammates.
“Without my teammates constantly pushing me to lift more, run faster and throw farther I wouldn’t have progressed the way I have this year,” Nielson said. “Coach Kernan has worked miracles with my throwing this past year. I couldn’t have asked for a better coach.” With a great end to a season, Nielson continues to look forward to the upcoming year. “This year has definitely been a great ride,” Nielson said. “I hope next year has more great things in store for me.”