Since the moment sophomore McKenna Kilian began playing basketball as a freshman, Pentucket girls basketball coach John McNamara has marveled at her athleticism.
”She has so much ability and has great potential,” said McNamara. “She is just so athletic.”
Kilian, who also plays varsity soccer, displayed that athleticism for all to see in the spring when she enjoyed a tremendous track season.
She broke a 14-year school record in the 400, running 59.30 in the Cape Ann League meet to edge classmate and friend Paige Wesolowski, and she was on the record-setting 4x400 relay as well.
In the high jump, Kilian cleared 5-feet for the second year in a row and really showed her athletic ability when she competed in the North heptathlon, helping the team finish third.
With virtually no experience or training, she threw the shot put 30-5 3/4, long jumped 15-7, ran the 800 in 2:29.1 and had a 27.0 in the 200.
”That was really fun, doing events I had never done before,” said Kilian, who is a resident of Merrimac. “It was exciting.”
Pentucket coach Steve Derro thought the performance reflects Kilian’s talent and potential.
“She is one of the best all-around athletes I have had the pleasure of coaching,” said Derro. “She has had success in just about any event I have tried her in. ... I think the sky is the limit with McKenna. She is a special talent.”
Derro adds that “she works extremely hard, never takes a day off or a rep off in practice” and she’s not letting up this summer.
In addition to playing soccer twice a week and with the Pentucket Hoops for Hope team twice a week, she participates three times a week in Derro’s “Peak Performance” camp in Newburyport to improve speed, agility and quickness.
That Kilian is involved in all three of her sports is not surprising. If asked to pick her favorite, she’s almost tongue-tied.
“I like them all — they’re all really different,” she said. “I like the team aspect of soccer and basketball, but I like running a lot.”
Looking ahead, Kilian has few specific goals. But as a junior-elect captain of the basketball team, she has a general goal, to help carry on what has become a tradition.
“I want to be a team leader,” said Kilian. “The captains we’ve had before, like Sarah Higgins, Ashley and Coley Viselli and Tess Nogueira, were great athletes and have been such good role models. I want to be the same way.
“Besides that, I just want to keep working hard and improving as an athlete.”
There is one thing that Kilian needs to work on, according to McNamara.
“She just needs more confidence, to realize how good she can be,” he said. “She needs to be more assertive.”
Kilian agrees that “sometimes I’m not that confident ... it’s something that I’m working on,” but her track success in the spring was a definite confidence boost that should carry over.
McKenna's best Track 400: 59.30 (school record) High jump: 5-0, multiple times Basketball Averaged 7 points a game At best in big games, vs. Newton South and Archbishop Williams