Gabby Kearney missed her freshman college track and field season at Oklahoma in 2016 after fracturing the femur bone in her left leg during a preseason team pentathlon.
But the 20-year-old, a 2015 graduate of Roseburg High School, is back competing in the javelin for the Division I Sooners this spring. She feels healthy and is hoping to earn a berth in the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, which will be held June 7-10 at University of Oregon’s Hayward Field.
In order to qualify for the NCAAs and make the trip to Eugene, Kearney — a two-time Oregon Class 6A state champion for the Indians — has to finish in the top 12 at the NCAA West Regionals. That competition is scheduled for May 25 in Austin, Texas.
Kearney, the daughter of Patricia Kearney and Stephanie Hutchins, currently sits in 12th place on the NCAA West women’s javelin list with a season best of 166 feet, 7 inches set at the Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joynee Kersee Invitational in Los Angeles on April 8. That mark matched Kearney’s PR.
Sophomore Mackenzie Little of Stanford, a two-time Pac-12 champ, has the top mark (182-5) heading into the West Regional.
“I’m excited to make it this far as a freshman, and having the opportunity to make it to nationals,” Kearney said Wednesday in a phone interview from Norman. “I’m on the bubble right now. We have a really strong West region and there will be a lot of good competition. As long as I’m in the top 12, that’s all that matters.”
Kearney finished second in the javelin at the Big 12 meet last weekend in Lawrence, Kansas, throwing 162-4. She finished behind a familiar name to Oregon track and field fans — junior Haley Crouser of Texas. Crouser, a Gresham High product who transferred to Texas from UO, had a throw of 171-0.
“It felt good,” Kearney said of her performance. “I’m right there, I’m close (to my PR). After being in surgery a year and a half ago I’m happy with that. It’s all I can ask for.”
The year off from competition last year allowed Kearney to get acclimated with college life on the academic side. A health-exercise science major, she made the Academic All-Big 12 team with a 4.0 GPA over the last two semesters.
“I’ve been lucky to keep a 4.0 through my college career,” she said.
Kearney savored getting to take in some of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, as a student.
“It (injury) gave me the opportunity of studying abroad,” Kearney said. “Going to Rio was an amazing experience.”
Kearney, who’s planning to take the summer off from competition and stay in Norman to train, is hoping to finish off the spring season strong with an appearance at Hayward Field — her home field away from home in previous years.
In addition to winning two prep state titles there, she won the javelin twice at the Oregon Twilight meet, beating a field of collegians.
“I just want to make it back to Oregon (for the NCAAs),” Kearney said. “When I started looking at schools (for college) I made a deal with my mom. To make it to nationals so she could see me compete.”
Jackson wins 3 titles for Lane
Lane Community College sophomore Meg Jackson, a 2015 Roseburg graduate, won three events at the NWAC Southern Region women’s track and field meet last weekend at LCC in Eugene.
Jackson finished first in the shot put (37-9 1/2), hammer (133-6) and javelin (128-11), and was fourth in the discus. The Titans won the team title with 267.5 points.