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Jonesboro's Arnold looking for redemption

Photo by Derrick Mahone
Jonesboro senior Kelsey Arnold, who will compete on the Georgia Southern track and field team next season, is one of the top-ranked shot putters in Class AAAA.

Photo by Derrick Mahone Jonesboro senior Kelsey Arnold, who will compete on the Georgia Southern track and field team next season, is one of the top-ranked shot putters in Class AAAA.

JONESBORO — For Kelsey Arnold, being on the track and field team first started out as just something to do.

Something to keep her busy.

“When I was in ninth grade, when basketball season was over I was just looking for something to do to keep from being bored,” said Arnold, who has been a team manager for the Jonesboro boy’s basketball team throughout her entire time at the school.

Now, that extra thing on the agenda has turned into something more lasting. Arnold, a shot putter and discus thrower, has parlayed a once casual past time into an opportunity to excel at the next level.

The senior will attend Georgia Southern on a track scholarship this fall — a testament to how far she has come from her first time out on the field.

“I remember that first year,” coach Tim Floyd said. “It was very clear that she had a lot of talent. She just had to pick up the technique that she needed in or to be able to compete with the top throwers in the state.”

And now? Mission accomplished says Floyd. He said that he would easily place Arnold in the top echelon of hurlers in Class AAAA. And her recent accomplishments seem to be backing up his claim.

Arnold followed up first place performances — a 37-foot, 11 inches throw in the shot put and 100-foot, one inch throw in the discus — in Saturday’s annual Gary Townsend Invitational at Southern Crescent Stadium by placing second in the shot with a 36-10 throw at Tuesday’s Lovejoy Spring Thriller.

She also recorded a personal-best 114-2 in the discus which was good enough for first place at Twelve Oaks Stadium.

Ahead of the county meet which begins today at Tara Stadium for the field events, Arnold seems to be on track to achieve what she came up short of accomplishing last season.

Arnold said focus was a problem for her when she made her first trip to Sectionals last year.

Despite being a top-ranked thrower, and despite a first-place finish in the discus and second-place showing in the shot put in last year’s Region 4-AAAA championships, Arnold placed 11th and 10th in the two events during sectionals, keeping her from qualifying to state.

And although it may be tempting for Arnold to put the disappointing finish behind her, Floyd says that a healthy reminder may be exactly what she needs to avoid a repeat performance this year.

“I make sure I don’t let her forget what happened to her last year,” Floyd said. “It may have been the bus ride, the heat, the pressure of Sectionals being new. I don’t know. But I’m constantly putting that bug in her ear, and letting her know that she is the best in the state physically, but she has to back that up by showing up mentally.”

Which is why her current No. 3 ranking in the state in Class AAAA isn’t impressive to her right now.

“That doesn’t mean anything to me because I’m not the best yet,” Arnold said.