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Wilson wants more

Daily Pilot High School Athlete of the Week

CdM junior thrower, who strives to improve, took second in the shot put and third in the discus at the OC Championships.

April 22, 2011|By Matt Szabo,
(Scott Smeltzer…)

Coming onto the Corona del Mar High track and field team as a sophomore, Karléh Wilson said it was tough at times last year.

She struggled to adjust after her family moved to Southern California from Gonzales, La. In some ways at CdM, she was the low girl on the totem pole.

The Sea Kings had several throwers ahead of Wilson. Jaycee Olsen (now at UCLA), Kyla Winkle and Jessica Imani all made the CIF Southern Section Division III finals in the discus; Olsen advanced to the CIF State Track and Field Championships.

Wilson showed flashes, but her year ended at the Pacific Coast League finals. She knew it wasn't good enough.

"It was kind of hard," she said. "I was the only sophomore, and every time I'd throw I wouldn't be happy with my throw. They'd be like, 'You're just a sophomore.' And I'd be like, 'Yeah, so? What is that supposed to mean? I still want to do well.'


"They'd just always keep saying that. It was stuck in my head, 'You're just a sophomore,' but I'd get really mad. I felt like I'm not just a sophomore. I'm Karléh, you know? Everyone was always comparing me with Jaycee, like 'Oh, you're going to be the next Jaycee.' It was kind of frustrating, because I want to establish my own name. I love Jaycee, but I wanted my own name."

She has her own name now. All of Orange County knows about Wilson after her performance April 16 at the Orange County Championships. Now a junior, she was second in the shot put (37 feet, 5 3/4 inches) and third in the discus (a personal-best 120-9).

Wilson hoped to win the shot put crown, which she captured at the meet last year at the frosh-soph level. But she couldn't be too upset after another personal-best in the discus. She's come a long way – more than 18 feet, to be exact – from the girl whose personal-best throw coming into the year was 102 feet.

That old mark may seem insignificant, but it is special to Wilson as well. It came almost exactly a year ago, April 22, 2010, in a league meet against San Juan Hills. It was the third anniversary of the death of Karléh's grandmother, Doris.

Now Wilson wears the day, No. 22, when she plays basketball for CdM. She's a two-year varsity player. Her younger brother Kai, a sophomore running back on the football team, also wears No. 22.

"Twenty-two is a special number for my family, and April 22 is a very special day for me and my family," she said. "I dedicated that [track meet] to her, and I was just really proud of myself. I did really well that day."

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