West Ranch grad flourishes in field events at college level

West Ranch grad and current thrower at Pacific University was recently named the Northwest Conference Field Student-Athlete of the Week after breaking a school record in discus. Naji Saker/Pacific Sports Information

When Karen Du started competing in throwing events for West Ranch high school, she didn’t see it as much more than a hobby.

It wasn’t until her skills earned her a spot on a college roster that she began to take it seriously.

“I pretty much did it for the fun of it and then once I graduated, my passion for it just kept growing,” Du said, “and having it as my main focus as a sport, it made me fall in love with it even more and just seeing my performances and all that, it pushed me to keep going after the goals that I set for myself.”

Now at Pacific University in Oregon, Du’s passions have led her to school records and have also earned her Northwest Conference Field Student-Athlete of the Week recognition.

At the Lewis & Clark Spring Break Open in mid-March, she broke the Pacific University record in discus with a toss of 135 feet, 11 inches.

Also in March, she won in discus at the Pacific Preview and Pacific Open. She set a new personal record at the Pacific open in shot put at 42-4.75.

Those results also won her Pacific’s Boxer Club Athlete of the Month honors.

“I didn’t really expect it,” said Du of her success, “but at the same time, putting in all the hard work from the offseason and all that really showed the results from the offseason, so I really appreciate it from the school to recognize that.”

Back in Santa Clarita with the Wildcats, Du threw a personal-best 120-3 in discus as a senior – a record that has since been broken by current Cat Natalie Ramirez.

Du’s best mark in shot put, a 35-0 throw, came in her junior campaign.

She credits the competitiveness of the Foothill League for some of her collegiate success.

“All the girls that I did compete with in the past, they were all throwing around the same measurements as I did,” she said. “And that kind of showed me that I had potential to compete in college as well and just like, seeing people that threw farther than me, they pushed me like, oh, I want to do that too.”

Currently a junior at Pacific, Du is working towards an exercise science motor behavior degree with the goal of becoming either a physical therapy aid or occupational therapist.

She’s also considering getting a strength and conditioning certification to help train athletes like herself.

For SCV track and field athletes, however, she has some immediate advice.

“Keep chasing the goals of what they set in the preseason and just keep working hard in practices and just absorb what they learn from their coaches and their teammates every day,” she said.

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