Dual threat

After achieving all she has on the basketball court for Portland State, it would seem that Kelsey Kahle has earned a nice long rest.

After achieving all she has on the basketball court for Portland State, it would seem that Kelsey Kahle has earned a nice long rest. 

In her four seasons in the South Park Blocks, the 5-foot-10 Aurora, Ore., native spearheaded a program turnaround that resulted in the team’s best ever Big Sky record (14-2) this year and a postseason drive that peaked in the second round of the WNIT tournament. 

In addition to her perennial All-Big Sky honors, Kahle walked off the court with 11 school records, including the most career points, rebounds, field goals and free throws made.

Proving she can dominate on both sides of the ball, Kahle coupled her conference second-best scoring average of 16.5 points per game with the 2008-09 Defensive Player of the Year award. 

With all those accomplishments under her belt, you might think that the senior English major would take some well-deserved time off from competition. Perhaps she could take a deep breath, relax and reflect on what has been arguably the greatest ever women’s basketball career at Portland State.

If she did that, though, she wouldn’t be Kelsey Kahle.

Instead, she is gearing up to represent the Vikings in the high jump event in the Big Sky Track and Field Championships, taking place this week in Missoula, Mont. 

A four-year track varsity letter-winner and former All-State high jumper for North Marion High School, Kahle set the sport aside while carrying the Vikings for four seasons on the basketball court. During her senior year, though, she began to feel her old event calling to her as the sun was setting on her college basketball career. 

“I thought I was content leaving high-jumping behind me in high school,” Kahle said.  “After basketball ended, though, I thought about it more and more, and I eventually approached one of the track coaches about joining the team.” 

With such an impressive athletic resume, it’s no wonder that the coach eagerly accepted Kahle’s offer to fill the role of Portland State’s only female high jumper. And already, Kahle has qualified for the Big Sky Championships by earning first- and second-place finishes in the last two meets she’s competed in. 

On Saturday, May 9, she jumped a personal best 5-feet, 7 inches, a two-inch improvement from her record of 5-feet, 5 inches she set the weekend prior. 

“I’m just trying to get better every jump and improve my form,” she said. “It helps to have such good teammates cheering me on.”

As successful as her brief high jump campaign has been, Kahle admits that the dynamics of the sport are completely different from basketball, and in some ways, the high jump is more challenging.

“It’s a different sport altogether, with a different thought process and approach,” she said.  “In basketball, if my shots aren’t falling, I can still set my teammates up and play tough defense. In track, you have to do what you have to do, and you don’t get any chance to make up for any shortcomings.”

After a four-year hiatus from the sport, Kahle admits to having some growing pains while training for the Big Sky Championship. 

But the multitalented athlete has improved upon her score in all three of her meets thus far, continually shaking off the rust that accrued while she focused on basketball. And though Kahle holds an extensive collection of school records, she refrained from setting too lofty of goals for her performance in the high jump. 

“From the beginning, I’ve had the mindset of, ‘let’s see what happens,'” Kahle said. “I accomplished my goal of qualifying for the conference meet, now I’m just going to push as far as I can go.”