North Logan 11-year old Kaylee Carlsen’s big day is Saturday as she lines up in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome with three other competitors from Indiana, Illinois and Arizona as national finalists in the NFL’s Punt, Pass and Kick Contest. Kaylee and her dad Rusty, a former punter for the Utah State football team, arrived in Atlanta Thursday to begin a full weekend of activities. “It all started when she wanted to enter a competition at the Smithfield Recreation Center and she took first place in her age division there. And then she went over to Tremonton for a regional competition and won that one.” That qualified Kaylee to compete at a Denver Broncos-St. Louis Rams game and she finished first there, too. All 32 NFL teams sponsored such an event and final totals of winners of each of those were forwarded to the NFL. The top four scores in each age category were invited to Atlanta . Each punt, pass and kickoff from a tee is measured in feet and each contestant’s score is based on distance and accuracy. “Ever since Kaylee was a little girl she has just naturally thrown a baseball really well, she has always been in the back yard throwing footballs with us,” said Rusty. “But she’s also one who goes out and practices a ton. She’s very coachable. I can give her a tip about punting technique and even though it’s uncomfortable to her, she’ll practice and practice it. She has improved a lot since the first competition in Smithfield.” The Carlsens’ trip will include a visit to the Georgia Aquarium plus the Friday night banquet with a “surprise” speaker and other events. “The competition is Saturday morning before the Falcons-Packers game,” said Rusty Carlsen. “There will be a presentation between the third and fourth quarters of the game to honor the winners in each age category.” The four national finalists in the Girls 10-11 category are Kaylee, Haley Leanna (Grayslake, IL), Kristina Lynch (Granger, IN) and Jillian Navarro (Tempe, AZ). NFL Punt, Pass and Kick began in 1961 and is the nation’s largest grassroots sports skills competition. Kaylee’s older brother, Kyler, was a quarterback for the Sky View Bobcats and now plays for the Idaho State Bengals.
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