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Senior Caitlin Kelly recently became the first-ever Cavalier to win the championship discus title at the prestigious Penn Relays. Kelly had the program’s third best throw (171-10) to win the event and improve upon her already regional qualifying mark in the process.

An All-ACC Performer in the discus this season, Kelly and the Cavaliers will use the UNC Elite meet this Friday, May 8 to tune up for the ECAC/IC4A Championships on May 15-17 and the NCAA East Regionals on May 29-30.

Question: Competing in your first Penn Relays, you became the first Cavalier to ever win the discus title. What does that accomplishment mean to you?
Kelly: Winning Penn Relays was obviously very meaningful. It was exciting to be part of such a huge athletic event, and I was glad I could perform well for my mom and sister who came to watch. It was especially significant for me because I was able to end with such a strong throw. The week before in Miami I rushed my final attempt and it wasn’t very good. I’m used to relying on my ability to work well under pressure, so failing to do so at ACCs really shook my confidence. Answering back on my final attempt at Penn really helped restore confidence in myself.

Question: Billie-Jo Grant finished runner-up to you. As a successful performer on the national and conference level, describe your relationship with her and even the large group of throwers that Virginia has.
Kelly: Billie-Jo has been an incredible role model for the entire team. She’s not only an outstanding athlete, but a wonderful person and friend. We have a large group of throwers this year, but we’re still very close. Practices are staggered throughout the day, but you usually train with everyone during the course of the week. Competing against each other can be difficult, but the better the competition, the better you perform. So I think if you’re lucky enough to have friends and teammates who are among the best throwers in the country, competing together can bring out the best in each one.

Question: For those who have never experienced the Penn Relays, describe the atmosphere of the entire meet.
Kelly: Penn Relays is an incredibly exciting meet. There are thousands of people and competitors at all different levels, from high school through masters. It’s unusual to have such a big meet in the middle of a city so it’s very crowded and hectic, but the energy is palpable. Everyone is really excited to be there, whether it’s to compete or just to observe the amazing athleticism. The throwing area was moved far away from the track however, so the atmosphere out there was quite different. Eight women showed up for the discus competition, and three of us were from UVa so it was pretty small.

Question: Did you meet any famous or elite athletes?
Kelly: Actually, I was lucky enough to see my favorite elite athlete at Penn Relays. My sister Alex is a freshman at Rutgers University and was competing as well. She won the college javelin competition with a personal record, and I’m very proud of her! Sharing such a competitive meet with my little sister was really special.

Question: You’ve already qualified for NCAA Regionals. What are some of your expectations and/or goals for the remainder of the season?
Kelly: My goals for the remainder of the season are to win ECACs and the East Region Championship and become an All-American.

Question: Do you have any plans for next year?
Kelly: Next year I plan on volunteering overseas so I can travel a little bit. When I get back, I’m hoping to find a job in public policy and start applying to law school.

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