By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Kathleen Durand is the best high school discus thrower to come out of the Redwood Empire, and looking at her roots, it’s no surprise.
Search the Durand family tree and it’s obvious Kathleen was born to throw the discus.
The field event goes back at least three generations in her family starting with her grandfather, Marc, and great-uncle, Paul. Kathleen’s father, Joel, and mother, Alicia, also competed in the discus.
Kathleen was introduced to the sport at an early age and showed an immediate affinity. At Rincon Valley Middle School, she set a school record of 93 feet, 2 inches.
She continued to increase her distances at Maria Carrillo and earned All-Empire first-team honors her first three years at the high school.
In her just-completed senior season, she ascended to a new level with a toss of 144-3 at the CIF State Track & Field Championships. It was the first time a female Empire high schooler broke the 140-foot mark.
That throw earned Durand fourth place at state and clinched the top All-Empire honor for her.
The best toss of her career came on her fifth throw during the second day of the state meet at Clovis, and for a moment Durand was afraid it wasn’t going to count.
“I was actually scared I was going to scratch because I stuck my throw in the front which means I didn’t reverse at the end,” Durand said. “Luckily, I stayed in the circle.
“I thought it was a good throw because of how hard I ripped my arm through. I didn’t know until it was called out that it was my longest.”
Durand’s father, who has coached her from the beginning, was in the stands for the record-setting toss.
“I would love to say that every day with my father coaching me was filled with love and laughter, but a good chunk of it was tough love which leaves out most of the laughter,” she said with a chuckle.
“Seriously though, I am so lucky and happy that my father had the time and energy into coaching me. Very few girls get the opportunity to have their father give them so much attention and share so much knowledge.
“We spent countless hours analyzing video in slow motion and reverse looking at the most minute details.
“It’s been an incredible experience and I will always have fond memories of it.”
For the first few weeks of the spring, it looked like her high school career would end in disappointment.
“I strained both my groins early in the season,” Durand said. “That’s a bad injury for a thrower because your groin is so important in rotating and spinning.”
Instead of flirting with 140-foot tosses, Durand was stuck in the low 130s. Daily ice baths cured the problem and with three weeks to go in the North Bay League season, she was healthy again.
In the postseason, she took home the blue ribbon in the NCS Meet of Champions and followed that up with her record-setting toss at the state tournament.
Her high school accomplishments earned the 5-foot-5 Durand a scholarship to Sacramento State.
This summer, like in recent summers, she is working construction.
“My father is a general contractor,” Durand said. “In my family we are taught to work for what we want.
“I do everything from framing, to pouring concrete, to working on a roof or building decks. It’s pretty cool to be able to use most tools and to know I am actually helping my father out.
“It’s exhausting work but it’s great to be able to save up some money for my first year at Sac State.”
ALL-EMPIRE GIRLS TRACK & FIELD
ATHLETE OF YEAR
Kathleen Durand, Thrower, Maria Carrillo, Sr.
Maria Barragan, 800, Healdsburg, Sr.
Morgan Bertsch, High Jump, Santa Rosa, Jr.
Sheena Blackwell, Hurdler, Piner, So.
Jackie Chalmers, Sprinter, Montgomery, Sr.
Helen-Ann Haun, Vaulter, Healdsburg, Sr.
Kiana Herold, Jumper, Sonoma Academy, Sr.
Sadia Ibrahim, 800, Santa Rosa, Sr.
Nicole Kemper, Sprinter, Windsor, Jr.
Brittney Kozenko, Hurdler, Santa Rosa, Jr.
Julianna Mendez, Distance, Windsor, Sr.
Bianca Nicastro, Sprinter, Healdsburg, Jr.
Devyn Ruiz, Jumper, Healdsburg, Sr.
Alison Scranton, Thrower, Petaluma, So.
Louise Shurvinton-Bradley, Thrower, Santa Rosa, Sr.
Erin Thomas, Distance, Mendocino, Jr.
Delaney White, Distance, Santa Rosa, Fr.
Allyson Bricker, TJ, 800, Rincon Valley Christian, Sr.
Jordan Codding, Vaulter, Santa Rosa, Jr.
Julia DeVincenzi, Hurdler, St. Helena, Fr.
Stephanie Fernandez, Hurdler, Montgomery, So.
Aubrea Gray, Thrower, Santa Rosa, Sr.
Eva King, Jumper, Casa Grande, Jr.
Allison McIntyre, Jumper, Analy, Sr.
Allyson Milone, Thrower, Ukiah, Jr.
Ileana Moon, 800, Casa Grande, Fr.
Amanda Morton, Hurdler, Windsor, Sr.
Andrea Natoli, Distance, Maria Carrillo, So.
Madison Parrett, Distance, Petaluma, Fr.
Shaylee Roberts, Sprinter, Cloverdale, Jr.
Paloma Romero, Distance, Piner, Jr.
Marina Spadarotto, Sprinter, St. Helena, Sr.
Annette Sutton, Sprinter, Santa Rosa, Jr.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Louise Owens, Middletown
— Compiled by Jim Crowhurst