Jadyn Bonasera carries on family track & field tradition
A neat Mother’s Day story comes from the Tiger track squad – more particularly off the large team record board found in the PHS gym. Kris (Bottema) Bonasera was a rock star with the rock and discus back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and now her daughter Jadyn is following suit as a strong thrower for the Tigers.
Kris has held the Princeton girls’ discus and shot put record since her senior season in 1991. At the Tigers’ first outdoor meet this spring, Jadyn, a senior, broke the 126-10 discus record with a 130-05 toss. Then last week, also on the home track, she upped her discus record to 131-01.5.
Last season, Jadyn got within two feet of her mom’s discus record.
“But I was getting nervous with the way the spring weather was going this year, with all the meets that were getting cancelled. I didn’t think I would get my chance to throw it,” Jadyn said. “At the April 18 meet, I did a couple warmups, then that 130-foot throw was the first actual throw to be measured this season. I didn’t think it was as far as it was, and then when they measured it, I was at first relieved and then I was excited when it sunk in that I actually broke it.”
“She got that monkey off her back so she could enjoy the rest of her senior year,” Kris said.
Last Thursday, the favored crosswinds again did not blow over the PHS throwing area. “But a few more little bits fell together with the technique, and she put together another great throw to reach 131-feet on her second attempt,” Kris continued.
“My speed wasn’t very fast, I thought, but the release was a lot smoother than the other attempts,” Jadyn said.
A throwing tradition
Kris’ dad, Bernie Bottema, owned the discus record for Benilde-St. Margaret’s which lasted many years. Kris jumped from softball to track in her eighth-grade year. She went on to win the Rum River Conference in both shot and discus her last three years at Princeton. Her senior season, Kris placed second in the discus at region to make it to the state meet.
Along came Jadyn. The opportunity arose for the throwing tradition to keep going in the family.
“I would say when Jadyn was in fifth or sixth grade I was kind of showing her around throwing,” Kris recalled. “She just naturally picked it up and seemed to enjoy it. I still had shots and discs from my time at our place. So there wasn’t really any question, when it was spring sports in seventh grade, what she was going to try.”
“When I first started, it kind of just came easily in middle school. The discus was actually a bit more difficult, but the shot put was just about brute strength, which I had more of in middle school,” Jadyn said. “As I grew up, the technique improved, and the discus became more of a challenge to be good at it.”
“Discus is more of a finesse sport, but she was willing to put the work into it,” added her mom. “And the thing that I always had to remind Jadyn all these years, really, is that these (the records) were my best throws ever.
“I broke the school discus record as a sophomore, but the school record was like 110 feet. For Jadyn, the bar was set higher. So, that was the hard part for her, was realizing that it was about time more than anything.”
“The difference between us is Jadyn is way more consistent than I ever was. I’d get a couple good ones off, but her work regimen makes her so consistent and keeps her as one of the top throwers in the state,” Kris said.
Asked about the differences she sees between the two eras, Kris replied, “Honestly, we didn’t train. We didn’t lift weights; I didn’t have a throwing coach. There wasn’t off-season training or throwing coaches like you can hire now. Sports are a lot more formalized now. I just kind of picked ‘em up and threw ‘em back then.”
Getting the technique down, the footwork for the discus is tricky, the two said, because the upper and lower parts of the body are going at different speeds. And then there’s wind, release and other intricacies to add variants each time in the circle.
“For Jadyn to break that discus record meant even more to her because it’s a more difficult event to be good at,” Kris said.
The shot put record
Kris still owns the Tiger shot record at 38-06. Jadyn’s top throw last year was 36-05, and she chucked the rock nearly 35 feet at last week’s meet. The Tigers’ first-year throwing coach, Sarah Clemons, is working with Jadyn to change from a spinning shot style to the glide.
“I switched the day before the last meet and I already have seen more progress with my throws. I think by the end of the season, I’ll pull one together and have a good shot put throw,” Jadyn said. “Coach Clemons has done wonders with all our throwers.”
“I think pulling that new technique together, I see Jadyn breaking the team shot record, too,” Kris said. “And for her to actually have a coach – and a female coach, at that – who threw in college, is great. I don’t coach her anymore. I get to sit back and enjoy it as a spectator instead of feeling like I have to give her any constructive feedback.”
Sharing a deep interest in an activity has been a fun link for the Bonaseras over the years.
“I think one of the best things was we had a lot of really nice summer days where we would just go out and throw,” Kris said. “Get some sun, have a few laughs. She realizes that I may have had the record, but the throwing style didn’t look all that pretty!”
“Well, it’s gotten pretty tense at some times,” laughed Jadyn. “She being the coach and if I was having a bad day and not in a good mood. But I appreciate all the time she that she put into working with me.”
Both Bonaseras have a deep respect for the Tiger track tradition in place. The Princeton girls are the defending Granite Ridge Conference champions.
“The nice thing about track, that is not like all the other sports, is that there’s a place for everyone,” Kris said. “And that’s what I think is the beauty of this program that Tom Ostroot put together here. I think the best-kept secret in this town is what an amazing program he has put together for any kid who wants to play the sport. He will find a spot for them.”
“Yeah, he is always talking about the ‘nickels and dimes’ of the team – the lower placers who still earn points – which add up,” Jadyn said. “It was so exciting for both our girls and boys team to win the Princeton Invite last Thursday. Despite how cold it was, people were getting PRs (personal records) left and right.”
On May 14, the Tigers will be hosting the Granite Ridge Track finals, and sections will follow shortly after that. Next year, Jadyn will be competing in the throwing events at St. Scholastica in Duluth where she received a full academic scholarship. She is considering entering the physical therapy field.