WINTERSVILLE - Ninth place.
Odd one out.
That was the impetus Kristen Shimko used to fuel her desire for one trip to Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
"I really didn't like making finals and being the only one not to medal," she said Monday after a throwing session she called "the best throwing day I've had in a while."
The Indian Creek graduate used the finish in the discus at the regional championships last year in Athens as a reminder of what she didn't want to happen again.
"I didn't like that feeling at all," she said. "I made the top nine and that gives you hope. I finished ninth and didn't medal and went straight to disappointment. That pretty much fueled me for the whole season. I don't like being left out of anything. That one definitely got to me. Being the only person not to medal really hit a little deep."
Top nine made finals.
Top eight medaled.
Top four headed to the state meet.
Let the work begin.
It paid off.
On "not my best throwing day," Shimko released a 113-11 on her fifth attempt Saturday at the Division II regional championships at Muskingum University to climb into fourth place. That finish rewarded her a trip Friday to the Ohio State Track and Field Championships at Ohio State University.
"I'm so excited to go to states," she said with a smile. "I just wanted to perform well this year. "I'm going to college to do this and really excited to do that."
Shimko also spent her time in the Indian Creek discus ring during the winter.
Snow and all.
"I bet I shoveled off the ring well over 15 times," she said. "I came out here a a lot during the winter. I worked mainly on technique. A lot of times I was by myself and had freezing toes by the time I was done.
"I had five discs, so I would throw them slowly, analyze each thing I was doing wrong before throwing the next one, before I absolutely had to go out and get them. It was definitely challenging at times, but well worth it.
"I probably could have done some work inside at the Y, but I really prefer to do all the work in the ring. Even just doing technique, I like to do it in the ring so I can work within the boundaries of where I am going to throw in competition.
"Winter or not winter, I am going to be in the ring."
Her workouts slowed down when she pulled ligaments in her right thumb during basketball season and then had it in a cast.
"It was a little depressing when I got that injury during basketball season. I had that cast on my hand for a little while and I couldn't throw. That was hard for me," she said.
"For the ligaments to heal right, they had to put me in a cast. I still (weight) lifted legs with the cast on. They put a brace on and told me I still couldn't throw shot, but I started lifting with the brace on. I didn't care. The brace would dig into my skin, but it didn't matter to me one bit.
"I definitely wasn't going to sit around and do nothing.
"As soon as the cast came off, I was at the Y the next day, trying to throw some shot put.
"I probably could have played (basketball) once the cast came off, but I didn't want to risk hurting it again. My track season was too important to me."
Shimko will continue her track career at Wheeling Jesuit, where she will learn to throw the hammer.
"I am looking forward to learning that," she said. "I'm ready to go to college and work even harder and get better."
Shimko got into track in the eighth-grade, following her cousin Megan White from Mineral Ridge in Youngstown, who threw the shot and discus.
"I still actually use one of her discs," Shimko said. "The shot put I use is also hers.
"My goals have changed dramatically over the years. My freshman year, I pretty much was in it for the fun. I think my PR as a freshman was 89-something. I hit 100 my sophomore year and that's when I became a little more serious about it.
"I went to a couple of camps and actually got into it. I stayed with it from there and tried to work my hardest. I wanted to reach further goals. I wanted to go to states."
She set the school discus record this year at 124-7.
"I really want to get 125," said Shimko, who admitted the last couple of weeks have not been her best throwing. "I've had two off weeks, actually. I haven't been throwing well at all.
"Throwing well today definitely helped a lot with all that. I settled myself down a little and built up my confidence a little bit more.
"All in all, I'm pretty excited for Friday. My mindset it, 'I really have nothing to lose.' Worse comes to worse, I can be the 16th best thrower in the state and that's not that bad.
"Obviously, it's a first-time experience for me. I think it will be fun. I have three teammates going with me (Max Lewis, 800; Whitney Martin, 100, 200; Madison Smith, 400) and it will be a lot of fun experiencing this with them."
Shimko heads into Columbus seeded 16th.
"It only takes one throw," she said with a smile. "I really want to get on the podium."
She believes track also suits her for another reason.
"It's all on yourself," Shimko said. "You can't blame anyone but yourself if things don't go the way you want.
"I like the self-reliance."