Hard work, dedication and discipline have paid off for McDonough shot putter Kelly Joyce, who has asserted herself as one of the top performers in the area this spring.

In April, Joyce won the shot put championship at the 92nd Penn Relays in Philadelphia with a throw of 43 feet 3 inches. "I really get psyched up for the bigger meets," said Joyce.

Recently, Joyce captured both the Maryland Class A girls discus and shotput state titles. She threw the discus 135-2 1/2 and put the shot 40-11.

At Penn, Joyce was seeded fifth after finishing fifth last year. She threw a 42-2 on her first attempt, a personal best 42-8 on her second and surpassed that with the winning throw of 43-3 on her third.

Now Joyce is headed for The Athletic Congress circuit this summer.

"Traveling to New York or Philadelphia to different meets is a vacation for me," said Joyce.

Joyce also hopes to use this summer to reach her goal of 45 feet in the shot and 150 feet in the discus.

"I think 45 feet is reasonable," said Joyce's coach, Paul Kowalchick. "She will be competitive in the shot put, but not as competitive in the discus."

"Each time I throw I like to improve myself," Joyce said. "I always like to better myself."

Joyce had intended to attend Temple University, but is looking elsewhere after she learned that the Philadelphia school is considering dropping its women's track program (along with nine other minor sports).

Joyce first became interested in track in grade school, where she did a little bit of everything, including the hurdles and sprint events. "Everybody was encouraged to try just about anything," said Joyce.

Joyce could only throw 28 feet in the shot put as a freshman, but she steadily increased the length of her throws each year. During her sophomore year, she increased her distance to 36 feet and to 40 feet a year ago.