Hammer thrower Adam Kelly ’19
Beverly Schaefer

Though he had just fouled on one of the biggest throws of his career, weight-thrower Adam Kelly ’19 was confident walking to the circle for his last attempt at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in March.

“I felt like I understood what I did [on the previous throw] and had a good idea of what I needed to do to fix it,” he recalled.

Sure enough, Kelly tossed a fair throw of 23.38 meters that earned him second place and broke the indoor Ivy League record. “It was incredible that everything I’d worked for these four years happened in my last throw indoors,” he said.

This spring, following a commanding win in the hammer throw at the Ivy Heps Outdoor Track and Field Championships May 4, Kelly is aiming for another happy ending. He’s among 24 Tigers (16 men, eight women) competing at the NCAA East Regional May 23-25.

Kelly first came to track and field in high school as a means of staying in shape for soccer. He ran one 1,000-meter race before finding his way to the weight throw. And when he saw early success in throwing, he stopped playing soccer. 

Working with his coaches at Barrington (R.I.) High School, Kelly quickly became one of the best young throwers in the country, winning indoor nationals his junior year and competing for the U.S. National Team at the Under-23 Pan-American Games.

“I made Adam the priority of that recruiting class because we just don’t get that many kids of that caliber,” said head coach Fred Samara. “He’s one of the most driven and dedicated athletes I’ve coached at Princeton.”

After graduation, Kelly will begin training with the Estonian national team. (His mother is Estonian.)

“There’s a world championship, the Olympics, and [another] world championship … so I feel like this is the time to go for it,” Kelly said. “Even if it doesn’t culminate in world or Olympic success, I want to at least have the experience of being able to train full time.” 

A version of this story appears in the June 5, 2019, issue.