Something to Prove
Renshaw Sets NAIA Weight Throw Record in Winning National Title
Kasey Renshaw’s initial motivation to throw a shot put was a milkshake from her eight grade gym teacher. Now, as a senior at Siena Heights University, the motivation is a little bigger: winning national championships.
“I was in gym class in eighth grade and my teacher, who also working with the track team here, said, ‘Hey, Kasey, if you can throw this shotput in the air this high, I will buy you a milkshake,’” she said. “That was the first time I ever touched a shot put, but I got the milkshake. After that they pretty much started recruiting me to Siena.”
While Renshaw was not as highly recruited as current NCAA Division I athletes out of high school, she’s proved to be one of the top indoor weight throwers in the country. Among all NCAA and NAIA divisions, Renshaw is one of the best throwers in the nation. Her 70-foot, 10-inch performance at the Indiana University Relays, where she placed first in a meet full of Division I athletes, proves it.
In fact, Renshaw was the only NAIA athlete competing in the event.
“No one knew who I was,” she said. “I was the only NAIA athlete there. I felt like because nobody knew me, I had something to prove. I walked in and sat in the bleachers and kept to myself the entire time, but they made fun of me because I put my shoes on too early. Every athlete has their own rituals and stuff, but it kind of pushed me more to make a name for myself. Yeah, you may not know me, but you’re going to know me.”
Renshaw went on to win the national title at the NAIA Indoor Championships, setting a new NAIA record with a toss of 69-6.5. She was named the Outstanding Performer of the meet as the Saints finished fourth as a team. She also competed at the USA indoor national championships a couple of weeks later in Oregon and finished sixth in the country.
According to SHU women’s track and field coach Kirk Richards, it is that strong will and determination that has gotten the small-town Litchfield, Mich., native to where she is now.
“She is gentle, always positive and you would never know Kasey can bench 235 pounds more than once and squat 445 pounds,” he said. “The hard work and perseverance has paid off big for her. She is another amazing example of the kind of induvial that Siena Heights produces year in and year out.”
Renshaw’s path to where she is now has built year-by-year. Her freshman year she placed sixth in the NAIA Indoor National Championships. During her sophomore season, she competed at the championship event once again but fouled out of the ring on her three throws and didn’t qualify for the finals.
“That was a turning point in her career,” Richards said. “That meet instilled in Kasey the determination, discipline and maturity an athlete needs to become a national champion. Kasey learned from her failure in 2014 and came back to win the national title in her junior year in 2015 with a throw and PR (personal record) of 63′-10 ¼.”
This spring, she is continuing her quest to be the best. During the outdoor season, she is already ranked first in the NAIA in the hammer throw, and is also ranked in the shot put.
In fact, Renshaw thought about training for the Olympics.
“I never had any kind of ambition to go to the Olympics or anything,” she said. “I really didn’t see much out of track, because it’s not like basketball or football where you get a contract and get paid. You have to find your own sponsors. It’s kind of nerve-wracking, but exciting at the same time.”
However, after a host of injuries, and finishing up an internship for her accounting degree, she said she is focused on career outside of athletics after graduation.
“I never saw myself going this far to the USA meet,” she said. “I always told myself I wasn’t going to be the person that trains five or six years after college is done and I was done throwing. But I never saw myself going this far, so now I’m just kind of leaving it in God’s hands.”
And what is her secret to success?
“My main thing every meet is I don’t focus on getting excited or focusing on throwing big,” she said. “I just focus between every throw on staying calm.”