All of Keely McLaughlin's hard work has paid off.
On Wednesday, April 12, just one day after breaking the state shot put record, McLaughlin signed with Oregon State for track and field.
"It's kind of crazy. I knew for awhile where I was going to go," said McLaughlin. "It's really crazy just to see how many people are here and to find out I have a big support system. It's just really great."
McLaughlin chose Oregon State after building a strong connection to the team in a two-day visit.
"My mom and I we were actually both just crying when we left [Oregon State] because we had connected just within those two days," said McLaughlin. "They have a phenomenal coach that has produced tons of All-Americans and Olympians so I'm pretty excited."
McLaughlin still has the Olympics in mind, but is focused on her education, planning to study business and sound production.
For McLaughlin's mother, Missy, McLaughlin's signing is a relief.
"It's awesome. Me more than anybody knows how hard she's worked. All the blood, sweat and tears. It's awesome. This is where all the hard work has paid off and this is a big accomplishment here," said Missy.
For three years, McLaughlin was coached by Ron Culwell. Culwell became the head football coach, a duty that took him away from his throwers. Despite the change, Culwell is happy for McLaughlin.
"It's a feather in her cap and a feather for Grove, for our community. It just shows that if you work hard enough and believe in what you want to do, then you can do it. That's what we try to teach as educators, do what you want to do, have a dream and go for it," said Culwell.
Culwell believes that McLaughlin will do well in college.
"I think she's going to do great. I think they'll control a little bit more of what she does everyday. In what she eats and her workout schedule, all that stuff. It'll be more precise and more accurate, what she needs. She'll flourish up there, " said Culwell.
McLaughlin has even impressed Assistant Principle Bobby Kretuz with her work ethic.
"Everybody's talking about work on the athletic field, I stayed in touch with her and her mom over the summer and there's probably not two or three days in the summer that she's not lifting weights or working on her feet or squating. I don't know if you guys realize that. Nobody gets great by just sitting around. She puts in the extra hours," said Kreutz.
Grove's head track and field coach, Warren Brumley, also spoke to McLaughlin's work ethic.
"She got outside help, She spends hours out there. She stays after everybody else goes home. On weekends, if you go by, she's out there throwing. That's what it takes if you want to be good or even above that. It takes that extra effort," said Brumley. "I'm extremely proud of her. She represents our track team well."
But there is more to McLaughlin than her athletic accomplishments.
"Today, if you look at her in the classroom, she's unbelievable," said Kreutz. "If you look at her academically, she's in the top twenty, top ten students in the senior class."
Back in McLaughlin's freshman year, Kretuz made a deal with her. For every school record she broke, Kreutz would buy her lunch.
"That was worth it to me, 'you get a school record and I'll get you lunch'," said Kreutz.
Not long after, McLaughlin broke the school record in the discus. Kretuz held true to his end of the bargain and brought McLaughlin McDonald's for lunch.
"The first few times he brought me McDonalds and I was like, 'I love this, but can you get me something healthier?' So from then on he got me sub sandwiches or salads," said McLaughlin.
Kretuz has never been disappointed in the deal he made with McLaughlin.
"I kid you not, she has broken school records by an inch or more at least ten times," said Kreutz. "She milks it. She can control it. She beats it by that much and says 'you owe me lunch'. It's unbelievable."
McLaughlin appreciates her support system of teammates, friends, coaches and teachers.
"Thank you for supporting me throughout my career, just know that hard work really does pay off. It might stink for a little while, but eventually the big reward will come," said McLaughlin.
McLaughlin sets new record in shot put
On Tuesday, April 11, Keely McLaughlin not only set a new state record in the shot put, but she shattered the standing record.
In 2001, Amanda Warehime from Bartlesville threw a 45-11.75, then broke her own record at the State Meet, throwing a 46-4.5. McLaughlin throw at Miami reached a distance of 46-8.25, nearly four inches farther than the record.
"I was just really shocked. I didn't think at the beginning of the day that I was going to do it. So when I was just getting closer and closer I was just pumped up and really feeling it," said McLaughlin. "As soon as I broke [the record] my other teammates, we all just screamed as loud as we could, because it was so exciting."
McLaughlin hopes her record won't last long.
"That's my goal. I'm hoping to hit fifty this year," said McLaughlin.