For the Walkers, track and field talent runs in the family
When Keely Walker was in seventh grade, her father suggested that she consider track and field over softball.
“I’m glad I decided to stick with track,” she said.
Last weekend, Keely and her brothers Brendan, Alex and Jackson participated in the USA Track and Field Region 8 Junior Olympic Championships in Omaha.
The competition drew participants from Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
“It’s interesting to see how the kids perform,” said Patrick, who with wife Deb, cheered them on.
“Big meets like this really help when they get into high school track,” he said.
“There’s a lot of pressure situations that you really don’t get in high school track,” said Brendan, 18, who graduated this year from West Fargo High School.
Alex placed seventh in shot put and discus throw, Keely placed sixth in shot put and discus and third in hammer throw, Brendan placed eighth in shot put and seventh in discus and second in hammer throw, Jackson placed 13th in shot put and ninth in discus.
Track and field is big in the extended Walker family.
Patrick was a sprinter in college.
“My brother was a thrower. Our cousin (Larry Walker) was a really good throwing coach at Hillsboro,” said Patrick.
Larry Walker’s son, Ross, was a 14-time NAIA All American at Dickinson State University. His wife, Sarah, an Arizona State University graduate, is the most decorated female shot put thrower in NCAA history.
“It’s nice being related to them because we get a lot of extra coaching,” said Keely.
Keely started throwing discus in seventh grade, participating on the varsity squad in Eastern Dakota Conference meets.
“After that, she was hooked,” her father said.
Brendan, decided to give discus a try as a West Fargo sophomore.
“He found out it was more difficult than he thought,” his father said.
This year, as a West Fargo senior, Brendan placed fourth in the state shot put and discus competition.
Last year, the Walker siblings participated in their first USA Track and Field competition at Aberdeen, S. D.
“We did pretty good so I said this year we are going to do it as a family,” said dad.
Younger brothers Alex, 13, and Jackson, 11, rounded out the Walker team last week in Omaha.
Keely and Brendan competed in shot put, discus and hammer throw, Alex in shot put and discus and Jackson in shot put, discus and turbo javelin.
“I was made to follow in the footsteps of my siblings,” said Alex, who competed in middle school competition last year.
“Once you get to the meet and start throwing, it’s a lot of fun,” he said.
Jackson said he didn’t endure the parental pressure that his siblings did to participate in track and field.
“I kind of wanted to do it,” he said. “This is my first summer of throwing.”
The Walkers practice regularly either at West Fargo High School or Cheney Middle School.
Every Sunday night they head to Hillsboro to train under Larry Walker for three hours, one hour each on hammer throw, shot put and discus.
Brenden hopes to try out as a walk-on at North Dakota State University this fall, where he will major in mechanical engineering.