Hit with the news of a canceled Ohio outdoor season and the accompanying harsh reality that it'll be several months before she finds herself facing live competition again, it would have been understandable if Annie Karshner decided to put the implements away for a while to focus on other endeavors.
That's far from the approach she's employed, however. Karshner, a Logan Elm rising junior and up-and-coming thrower, has taken the halted 2020 campaign in stride, but that's not to say there wasn't some disappointment that came along the way.
"I'm a three-sport athlete, but track and field is my favorite and what I work on year-round, so not having a chance to compete was discouraging, but instead of dwelling on the negatives, I'm trying to use this as added motivation for next year," Karshner indicated.
To say she's made the most of a challenging situation would be an understatement. Following weeks of uncertainty as to whether there would be any form of an abbreviated season to the official closure notice that was shared by the OHSAA on April 21st, Karshner was and continues to be intent on using this period of down time as an opportunity to better herself.
"In order to keep my skills sharp, I've been working on technique and drilling the fundamentals in my garage." "I've also been throwing off a large sheet of plywood into the field next to my house, weather permitting," she said.
Karshner is complementing her attention to the subtleties of throwing with the physical work that'll be necessary to take her game to the next level.
"I've been doing as much lifting and working out at my house as possible to ensure that I'm strong and prepared for future seasons," said the sophomore.
So where exactly does all this dedication come from?
While obviously self-driven, it's safe to say that Karshner derives motivation from family ties when it comes to the throws, as well. Her dad, and coach, Eric and her cousin, Haden Karshner own extensive resumes when it comes to the throwing events.
Haden, a two-time all-Ohioan and a rising freshman student athlete at the University of Rio Grande, has always been an a source of inspiration for Annie.
"We had big goals to qualify to the state meet together this year and because he's a senior, now this will never happen," she said.
Instead of zeroing in on the missed opportunity, however, she's using it as a driving force. "Haden has motivated me to follow in his footsteps in the coming years and become an all-Ohioan myself!"
If results achieved during the early portion of her career are any indication, it would appear that Karshner is well on her way to netting those lofty goals. A diverse thrower, who's tried her hand at the shot, the weight, the discus and the hammer, she counts a discus victory at the 2018 USATF Region 5 Championship and a regional qualifying berth in the same event as a freshman as a few highlights to this point in her athletic journey.
"Last year, I was a regional qualifier and missed being a placer by only two inches - that near miss keeps me focused on reaching the podium next year and ultimately qualifying for state's," she explained.
Annie's dad, Eric, a former decathlete who began throwing exclusively for Otterbein during his junior year of college, helped to kick-start her interest in the sport at a very young age.
"We're a family that loves track and field - I began throwing when I was just 9-years-old," she said.
That early start paved the way for success at the onset of her throwing days. Prior to reaching the high school ranks, Annie had pocketed a middle school state championship during her 8th grade year, as well as a national title on the USATF summer circuit.
"By the time I got to middle school, my love for the sport had grown so much - now I continue to work as hard as I can to live up to my previous successes and with the hopes of creating new ones," said the multi-sport athlete.
Karshner, who also dabbles in volleyball and on the hardwood for basketball competition, appears to have all the pieces in place to become a contender on the state level with her college bound cousin, Haden, residing next door and her coach living under the same roof.
"My throws coach is my dad, so we often talk about my goals and the things that I need to work on." "Although difficult for obvious reasons, we respected the state-driven no-contact guidelines that were in place and observed those boundaries just as if I was any other athlete on the team." "That's another reason why it's so great to have Haden close by - we throw together and have fun critiquing one another."
While Annie avoids official measurement of her practice marks, it's fair to say the persistence she's displayed during the period of down time will serve her well moving forward.
"I don't measure my throws, but we do take video to analyze my form - overall, this spring has been tough, but I'm determined to use this time as an opportunity to improve."