For a girl who finished ninth in the discus in the high school state meet, Tessa Krempel didn’t go into last week’s National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships with extremely high expectations.
So it came as a big surprise to the recent Columbus North graduate when she won a national title in the girls 17-18-year-old competition in Humble, Texas.
“It was unbelievable,” Krempel said. “I knew that I had it in me, but I never thought that I would actually win. I didn’t even think I would place in the top three, let alone come in first.”
But after going into the discus competition as the third seed, Krempel moved into first following the three preliminary throws. Her best throw was a heave of 140 feet, 7 inches on her final attempt of the finals.
“Once I threw one that was in first place for a little while, I was pretty much beyond myself, I was so excited,” Krempel said.
In early June, Krempel threw 137-5 to finish ninth in the discus in the state finals. She said she thought she was a little better prepared for the Junior Olympic Nationals.
“I got a little bit more practice in, and I was able to get in the weight room a little bit more,” Krempel said. “I focused more on speed and torque and ending my season on a big throw. Discus is mainly about speed, so that really set me off. Things were coming together a little bit better than they did at the state meet.”
Following the state meet, Krempel finished fifth in the discus and shot put and seventh in the hammer throw in Youth Nationals at Indiana University. She swept the three events at the Junior Olympic regional meet at Huntington University.
“That was a surprise, too,” Krempel said. “I didn’t think I would win.”
In the regional meet, Krempel threw the hammer 141 feet, a personal-best by 17 feet. She competed in that event first at the national meet and finished 10th with a throw of 130-4. The top eight made the finals and medaled.
Results from last week’s National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships for twin sisters Tessa and Mara Krempel:
Tessa: Discus, first, 140 feet, 7 inches; hammer, 10th, 130-4; shot put 34th, 35-4
Mara: Discus, 12th, 118-8; hammer 24th, 96-10; shot put, 35th, 35-4
“It wasn’t at all what I wanted,” Tessa Krempel said. “I wanted to make the finals, at least. Once you get a huge jump like that, it’s hard to stay consistent.”
The next day, Krempel uncorked her 140-7 throw to win the discus.
“That was pretty exciting to be able to throw that far, especially after a long season because we were pretty worn out by then,” Tessa Krempel said.
“I wasn’t surprised,” said her father, Lou Krempel. “I knew she had a chance at it. She went into the competition seeded third, and the first place seed was a little farther than her PR throw from this year, so I knew she had a chance. When you’re away from home and out of your routine, it comes down to who’s throwing well that day, and Tessa was able to hit her throws.”
The following day, Tessa had a practice throw of better than 40 feet in the shot but couldn’t match it in competition. She finished 34th with a throw of 35-4.
“Shot put was a struggle, but it was still fun,” Tessa said. “I think that (practice throw) calmed me down too much for the actual competition.”
Tessa’s twin sister, Mara, matched her with an identical 35-4 throw in the shot. Mara also finished 12th in the discus (118-8) and 24th in the hammer 96-10.
“I wish I could have done better, but I’ve been training for almost a whole year now,” Mara Krempel said. “I’m pretty happy with how I did in some of the events, but not the others.”
Lou Krempel, who coached the shot and discus throwers during the high school season, continued to work with his daughters in the weeks leading up to the Junior Olympic Nationals.
“That was very emotional,” Tessa said. “He’s been our coach for six years. We all cried a little bit because the national meet was the last meet he’ll ever coach us in. It was a great way to end our season and end our throwing career with our dad.”
“It was a little emotional after that (last) practice,” Lou said. “They have bigger and better things ahead of them, and I’m excited to see them enter into that next chapter in their lives.”
That next chapter will take place at Western Kentucky University. Tessa and Mara leave for the Bowling Green, Kentucky, school on Aug. 17.
Both girls thought the Junior Olympic Nationals gave them confidence going into their college careers.
“It opens my eyes to how I stand against some of the other top athletes in the country and what I need to work on to get to where I need to be,” Mara said. “I know that I have a lot of room to grow, and I’m excited to see what our coaches have in store for me.”
“It also gives me more experience,” Tessa said. “That’s the most important thing to gain right now — experience and confidence — knowing that I can step up to the competition. It was disappointing that I couldn’t do it in hammer and shot, but I was glad to be able to do it in discus. It was a nice way to end my high school career.”