Campus Life

Gallagher caps rookie season with CIS gold

The torch has officially been passed and it continues to burn as bright as ever for the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns throws team.

With the brother/sister combination of Jim and Heather Steacy no longer competing, and winning medals, for the Horns, a new group of throwers debuted at the U of L this track season. In terms of medal counts, the team hardly missed a beat.

Rookies Kayla Gallagher and Peter Millman posted double medalist performances at the Canada West championship meet, each winning gold in their respective weight throw events and silver in the shot put. Gallagher then set the track community on its ear with a dominant performance at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport national championships, claiming gold in the weight throw for yet another throws national title for the program.

"I just wanted to place higher than what I was ranked going into the meet," says Gallagher, who was ranked fifth nationally. "A fourth-place finish would have been fine with me and getting on the podium would have been awesome – that was my thinking."

Kayla Gallagher
First-year Pronghorn thrower Kayla Gallagher continues the long tradition of excellence in the Horns' throws program.

She exceeded awesome by throwing 18.24 metres in the CIS final, a personal best by nearly two metres and almost a metre better than the rest of the field. At just 19, Gallagher is already on the fast track to a stellar career, and serves as another example of the talented athletes that head coach Larry Steinke continues to bring into the program.

Of course, Steinke had the inside track on Gallagher all along. A Truro, Nova Scotia product, Gallagher comes from a throwing hot spot, training with the Truro Lions club that spawned former Pronghorns Kate Forbes (the CIS Championship Meet record holder in weight throw) and Jonathan Doucette.

Her Truro coach, Paul Millman, is the father of fellow rookie Peter Millman, and is a close friend of Steinke's, so much so that Gallagher had twice visited the U of L for training camps as a high school athlete.

"I was never going to stay home for track," says Gallagher. "The biggest decision for me was whether I would go to the United States or stay in Canada but I honestly never really looked at any schools in the U.S., it just made sense to stay in Canada."

And to work with Steinke, the national team coach who has consistently produced the country's best young throwers.

Of course, it wasn't all record-setting throws and medals for Gallagher this season. She actually opened the Canada West season well off form.

"It was a rough start to the season, I was throwing worse than I had been two years ago," she says. "I had to reevaluate what I thought I could accomplish."

Devoting more time to weight throw (she also throws discus and shot put), Gallagher started to see results. She threw a personal best at the Canada West championship meet and established the longest throw ever for a CIS rookie in winning gold.

"When I threw 18-plus metres at CIS, it didn't surprise me because that's what I'd been throwing in the two weeks of practice leading in. The fact that I did it in a competition as opposed to just in practice was the big thing," she says.

She credits Steinke's coaching technique for much of her success, as well as the opportunity to train alongside Olympians such as Jim and Heather Steacy.

"I really enjoy Larry as a coach, he explains things really well and can show you how to correct things," she says. "He uses a lot of visual techniques, either with a video camera or by physically just showing you what to do, and that works for me because I'm a very visual learner."

Her transition to university life is an ongoing learning cycle. She admits that the time constraints of training for track and working a job take their toll on studying. Interested in psychology, Gallagher says she is working hard on improving her time management skills.

Considering the strides she made in the throwing circle in just one season, it's safe to say that when Gallagher puts her mind to something, she's likely to reap the rewards very soon.


· Gallagher is currently training with Steinke and a group of elite throwers in Phoenix, AZ through Apr. 8

· Millman was named Canada West Rookie of the Year

· Gallagher has set her sights on breaking Kate Forbes' CIS weight throw record of 19.66 metres (2005 CIS Championships), then wants to take aim at Heather Steacy's Canada West and school records (20.28 metres)

· Gallagher will compete for Nova Scotia at the Canada Summer Games in August, and hopes to turn a strong performance at the Canadian national meet in Quebec into an invitation to the Pan American Junior Track and Field Championships in Peru, also in August

This story first appeared in the April 2013 edition of the Legend. For a look at the full issue in a flipbook format, follow this link.