PASO ROBLES — On Wednesday afternoon, flanked by both her parents and staring at a room full of her Paso Robles High School coaches and friends, Kimberly Buchanan signed her National Letter of Intent to throw for the Northern Arizona track and field team.
The PRHS senior sports star will go down as one of the best throwers in school history as she currently holds the second all-time mark in the discus at 43-feet-5.25-inches, which she set at the State meet where she placed eighth, and fifth all-time in the discus at 127-2, which she threw at the league finals on the way to earning herself the league championship. Buchanan racked up the awards in her senior season when she was tops in the league and county for both the discus and the shot put.
Just two years it ago, it was unimaginable that Buchanan would go to college for track and field, not because she wasn’t talented, but simply because she had never competed in a single track meet in her life. The Bearcat three-sport star entered high school as a basketball player first and foremost, with more than 10 years of training in the sport, and a volleyball player second. It wasn’t until her junior year that Buchanan decided to finally cave to the requests of track coach Matt Carroll and give it a try. It didn't take long for Buchanan to establish herself as one of the best around as she took first in only her third-ever meet her junior year and ended that season just inches away from qualifying for the State meet.
“It was probably the first time I hit 40 feet,” Buchanan said when talking about when she started thinking that throwing might be her future over basketball. “When I made it to CIF and I was like,’Oh this is actually really, really good,’ because I was up with the best girls in the State and just realizing that was kind of an eye opener and all of the coaches were right I should have done it since my freshman year.”
As a basketball player, Buchanan was one of the strongest and most aggressive players in the county and earned second team all-league this season and honorable mention as a junior. Her explosion was always on display and that is what drew the track coaches to her and after two years they finally convinced her to throw.
With only one full year of throwing under her belt, Buchanan dominated in her senior season. Out of the 17 track meets she threw at this season, including prelims and State finals, she placed first in the shot put in 11 of them but her most impressive accomplishment came at the State meet in Clovis. At the biggest meet of the year, surrounded by the best athletes from each school, Buchanan performed her best. The smiley red-headed senior recorded a personal record in the prelims and then turned around and set another personal best in the finals, on her last throw.
At Northern Arizona University, Buchanan will have the opportunity to compete in not one, but two different track seasons as the Lumberjacks also have an excellent indoor track and field team.
“It was a big part of it [having two track seasons] because they took me into the dome the first day that I visited and the dome was just amazing,” Buchanan said. “It felt like a mini NFL stadium, just the atmosphere that was there and being able to play two seasons of track, I think, is going to be amazing, especially indoor because I won’t get sunburnt,” she said with a smile.
As for why this thrower with completely untapped potential chose to become a Lumberjack? Because she says she loved the girls on the team and the throwing coach reminded her of someone that has helped her a lot through these last two years.
“I think the main reason I drifted towards NAU was because, when I visited, all the girls on the team were so amazing and I just clicked with them right away,” she said. “And the coach was super nice and, honestly, he reminds me of coach Carroll which is very, very good.”
Buchanan joins the list of excellent female throwers to come out of the North County that have headed to college and will head to school in August and study Public Health.