MAURA THE MAGNIFICENT: Every time she has stepped foot on the field this outdoor track season, thrower Maura Kimmel has broken, or come close to breaking, her own school record in the shot put and discus—and she has done so while recovering from a stress fracture in her back. Kimmel holds the Penn outdoor record in the shot put (15.55m) and the discus (53.83m), and the indoor record in the shot put (15.19m).
DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH: From West Sunbury, Pa., an hour outside of Pittsburgh, Kimmel, a sophomore in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, has been throwing since her freshman year of high school, but she says she wasn’t any good until her junior year. “I didn’t have a coach for a while, but then the guys’ coach at our high school thought that I had some talent so he sort of stole me and got me here,” she says.
FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE: Kimmel, who also played basketball in high school, says throwing appealed to her because of the individual nature of the sport. “It’s all on your own so you’re accountable for what you do,” she says. “I know that as long as I put in the work, I’ll see the results. It’s pretty linear.”
PLAYING THROUGH PAIN: At last year’s Florida Relays, Kimmel suffered a stress fracture in her back, but she continued to throw. She took a two-month break over the summer to recover, and began throwing again in August. Typically, her training involves throwing five days a week year-round, and lifting weights three days a week in the fall and two days a week during the season. Due to her back injury, she has been doing injury alternatives instead of weight lifting. “I can’t bear weight, but I still bench,” she says. “I don’t think [not being able to lift] has hurt me. I do miss it though.”
PROPS TO COACH P: A 2018 Indoor Second-Team All-Ivy selection in the shot put, Kimmel credits her throwing success to Jeff Pflaumbaum, an assistant throws coach. “He’s pretty awesome,” she says. “The training is so different here than it was in high school. He’ll meet with us and discuss training, and things we like, and drills that are more beneficial. He really breaks apart the throwing components as opposed to just throwing all day.”
SEEING SUCCESS: On the heels of her successful freshman campaign, when she broke the indoor school record in shot put, the outdoor school record in the discus, and qualified for the NCAA East Region Prelims, Kimmel says she is focusing more on the mental aspects of throwing this season. “I’ve focused a little bit more on visualization,” she says. “Last year, outdoor was complicated for me because I was just trying to hold myself together when I was throwing, and my throw was very erratic. This year, I’ve slowed down and I’ve tried to get into a better headspace with a throw I’m confident in.”
FURTHER AND FARTHER: Kimmel has set her sights on making the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Ore., in early June. To get there, she must first rank in the top 48 in the East to reach the East Preliminaries in Tampa, Fla., in late May. The top 12 finishers in the East Prelims advance to the NCAAs. “Throwing farther is always the goal,” she says. “I just want to throw as far as I can, and I’ll see where that takes me.”