After a second-place showing at last month's United States Track and Field Junior Olympic regional competition in Chicago, Greencastle High School senior Caitlin Gannaway is heading for the USATF Junior Olympic Championships in Omaha, Neb. The girls' shot put competition is scheduled for Thursday.
"We haven't done anything yet," he said.
There will be 41 entries in Gannaway's class at Omaha, which will be divided into four flights of 10 or 11 throwers. Whitlow said she will probably need to get up over 40 feet in her first three throws to advance to the finals.
"The first three throws are critical," the coach said.
Should she make the finals, Gannaway will need to get close to what she threw to set the GHS school record at the state finals, 41-1.75.
"We're looking at this like the state meet," Whitlow said. "There will be a lot of coaches there. It's a good time to throw well."
Gannaway had her last throwing practice on Monday and departed for Omaha on Tuesday. Whitlow said there would be some light lifting and stretching today before Thursday's competition.
On the verge of such a big meet, the athlete's enthusiasm seemed tempered on Monday. Gannaway simply acknowledge that she is prepared.
"I'm feeling good," she said. "I'm ready to get back to where I was at state."
As to what she's been doing to prepare for such a big meet, nothing has really changed. As the coach had said, she has been preparing the same way she would during the regular season.
"Practice is key -- spending a couple of hours with coach Whitlow every other day," Gannaway said.
One obstacle that could face Gannaway in Omaha is the setting. Her warm-up will be altered and heat could be a factor.
Whitlow trains Gannaway with shots of various weights. In warm-ups, she throws a 10-pound shot as opposed to the regulation 4-kilogram (8-pound-13-ounces) shot. However, she must warm up with a regulation shot for this meet. They will have to alter the warm-up routine.
Additionally, Omaha tends to be very hot this time of year. That will be a challenge in and of itself. The coach and thrower are not feeling sorry for themselves, though.
"It's the same for everybody. You have to get used to that kind of thing," Whitlow said.
He added that there are three keys to success as a thrower: technique, strength and inner confidence, with the latter probably being the most important.
"The mental preparation is as important as the physical side," he said.
As for just getting to make the trip, Gannaway is happy, although she isn't sure what to expect from the Great Plains.
"I'm excited. I guess it's a big city, but it's in Nebraska. I don't know what else is in Nebraska," she said. "Dad and Coach are excited about getting good steak."
The shot put competition is scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday.