Central Catholic’s track and field thrower Kyeese Hollands tends to get a little embarrassed when her private coach Scott Halley tells the story, but he can’t help himself.
Hollands has been at this for a while. She began refining her throws — discus, javelin and occasionally the shot put — when she was 8-years-old. She was talented. She had a knack for the intricate motions, even then. But she didn’t take to the drills.
She despised those drills.
“I had to kind of bribe her,” Halley said.
Drills are integral. Technique-wise, there’s a lot to keep track of in the world of throws. And, Halley admitted, kids don’t like to do drills.
Sometimes it meant Halley had to weave games into the athletic curriculum. On other occasions, Hollands received candy for finishing her drills. Her father would even tag along to practice at times. And if she completed the day’s goals, perhaps she’d be lucky enough to land a Jamba Juice detour on the way home.
What little interest Hollands displayed for the behind-the-scenes of it all, couldn’t be said for the competitive side.
The daughter of sprinters and the youngest sibling of two others — her brother, Gary (21), and sister, Keziah (20) — Hollands was predisposed to the track and field bug. Only problem was she didn’t much like to run, counterintuitive to her blinding speed. She’s fast enough to be on the Rams’ 4×100 meter relay team, her coaches say. But the field events? Hollands, who was often big for her age, tended to have the upper hand.
“What little kid doesn’t like to win?” she said.
Hollands would go on to join Albina Roadrunners Track Club when she was 9-years-old. She still trains with the club, and separately with Halley. Her high school career kicked off at Benson, but when COVID-19 swept her education into disarray, she made the move to Central Catholic for her final two seasons.
And over in Southeast Portland the girl who loathed drills, but loved winning, has been doing quite a bit of the latter.
Hollands is the only high school girl in the country in the top 18 nationally in both the javelin (154 feet, five inches) and discus (155′ 7″). She leads Oregon in both and is also eighth state-wide in the shot put (39′ 6″).
“That just doesn’t happen,” first-year Rams’ coach Emma Vaughan said, commenting on the innate differences in athleticism and technique needed to succeed across the variety of throws.
Added Halley: “She’s definitely someone special.”
Vaughan has known Hollands since she was a freshman. The former Clackamas coach acknowledged that in her Cavaliers program, Hollands was often a measuring stick for her throwers.
“Just being able to have her around (for my) first year in the program and just being able to lean on her about what she feels is going to make the program successful, has been a huge asset to me,” Vaughan said.
Central Catholic’s girl’s track and field team is small. Just 11 round out the varsity districts group. Yet, the Rams was still be in the hunt for a district title this week and a trophy at state next weekend due to Hollands’ brilliance.
A prime example of her transformational impact came on May 5, during the Dean Nice Invitational at Gresham High School. She threw over 150 feet in both javelin and discus — a rarity at this level — winning each. With her team nestled into what looked to be a third place finish, Hollands decided to make one final throw. She tossed the shot put a single time, finished first, and with it, bumped her Rams into first place themselves.
The significance of such performances isn’t lost on Hollands. She understands the uniqueness of her skills and accomplishments to this point. It made the college search a tad more challenging. A host of elite programs reached out, but her biggest question always came back to how said coaching staff would help her balance her love, and prowess, for both discus and javelin simultaneously. The answer to that question held, partially, the key to landing her commitment.
Texas Tech has had a Hollands-caliber thrower before. Recently, in fact. Hannah Carson, a 2016 graduate of the Red Raiders’ program, was a Big 12 Conference champion in both throws in 2015. She also became the first NCAA female athlete to ever throw both the javelin and discus over 200 feet in the same season. The coaching staff used Carson as the exemplar and with it, helped reel in Hollands, who signed on this past November to continue her career.
She intends to use the program as a launching pad for a professional career down the line. She’s had a yearning for a chance to go pro for some time now. Mookie Cooke, an Oregon basketball commit and former preps star in the Portland area, lived around the corner from her growing up.
“Seeing him come from this little area and become known nationally, it did give me motivation,” she said.
In that same vein, don’t think Hollands hasn’t taken note of where the next summer olympics will be held. Los Angeles, 2028, is something she’s consciously striving for.
She wouldn’t mind surpassing 160 feet in both her main throws, either. She thinks it’s abundantly possible before summer’s end, but if it doesn’t happen, she’ll have plenty of time in the coming years. Vaughan and Halley — who noted her runway speed for javelin is still a work in practice — concur.
Until then, Hollands will (likely) keep winning, regardless. Although winning doesn’t fuel her the same way it did that 8-year-old who needed candy to finish her drills, she still strives to be the best. But her personal bests often linger for longer in her head. That, and the potential she has as a role model.
“There’s times where little girls will come up to me just telling me how cool my throws were,” she said. “Those (moments) are pretty (cool).”