Senior Swan Song: Kaitlyn Pierce

Name: Kaitlyn Pierce

School: Standley Lake High School

Q) What was your most memorable race/throw/jump/vault/moment?

My most memorable race moment was probably running Leagues my senior year. My school was lucky enough to host it at our home course and we came in confident that we would win leagues after taking first at the Desert Twilight Championship Race. Even though we didn't, and took third instead, we were all so happy and proud of one another. It was one of my fastest races ever and where I qualified for my first Regional competition. The pride and joy that came out of that day was and always will be unforgettable.

Q) Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years?

I've been incredibly lucky to run with and compete against countless talented athletes throughout my running career but I think my biggest competition has definitely been myself.

I have had to overcome so many physical and mental blocks to get where I am today and while my teammates undoubtedly pushed me, it ultimately came down to my own drive and determination. I have steadily improved and my goal is always to be better than my past self, whether that's in terms of my attitude or my times.

Q) What was your greatest accomplishment?

My greatest accomplishment was earning a team captain position in my senior year. I worked tirelessly and lead by example for so long and was finally rewarded with that leadership spot.

Q) If you could do it all over again what would you change about your career in high school?

I think the main thing I would change about my high school career is that I would've started taking my coaches seriously sooner.

I started running mostly just to have fun and I did get a lot out of that but once I really committed to it, started putting in my full effort, and actually taking my coaches' advice, I got exponentially more out of the sport. That's what really helped me to develop a sense of community within my team.

It was not only socially rewarding but mentally and physically as well and I wish I had gotten aboard all of it sooner. That being said, I'm incredibly grateful for my high school career and for the countless lessons I've learned along the way.

Q) What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?

Without a doubt, injuries were the most difficult obstacle for me. I was plagued with many different injuries over my career, making it difficult to train consistently or at a high level and making me feel really unmotivated to keep working. Every time I would get over one pain, another one would appear or an old one would resurface and it didn't seem to matter what I did to stay healthy. There was always some nagging injury, which made running not only physically challenging but mentally so as well.

Q) What will you miss the most?

I am going to miss my SLHS gator family the most. Every single person who has played a role, even a small one, in developing that community has forever changed my life and I am beyond grateful for that. I'm going to miss the traditions we have together and the easy camaraderie that exists across the entire team.

All of it, from picking each other up at the finish line to chocolate milk effort days to short-short Wednesdays to seeing the sea of blue and green wherever we are, all of it has changed me and I can't even express how much I'm going to miss it all.

I know its not the end and this is a community I will forever be tied to, but it's still sad to be leaving it for a new chapter.

Q) What advice would you give to younger athletes?

The best advice I can give is to have fun with running. Remember to smile, to find people who make you happy to run with, to thank yourself and your body, to take rest days and game days. Don't make it all about the work and stay flexible with your training. It can be the most rewarding thing in the world if you make it fun.

Q) What influence has your coach had with respect to your performance and overall life goals?

All of my coaches have had immense impacts on my performance and life goals. They've pushed me further than I thought I could go and dramatically changed my mindset when it comes to running.

I owe a lot of my passion for the sport to my coaches and a lot of my grit as well. Not only that, but they've also really pushed me to want to continue running in college and I fully intend to fulfill those goals because of them. Even beyond that, I know that running will be a part of my life for the rest of my life and I owe that to my coaches in a lot of ways.

Q) What are your college plans?

I am planning to attend Knox College and run cross country and track for them. I may also be taking a gap year and spending it in Germany before heading to college. I am so excited for this new chapter of my life and for where running will take me in college!

Q) Who would you like to say 'thank you' to?

First, I'd like to thank my coaches: Coach Rosset, Coach Lawrence, and Coach Johnson (as well as all the other individuals who have helped out here and there with coaching!). I can't express how much I look up to all of you or how much of an impact you've had on me but I am so so so thankful for all of it.

Next, thanks to every single teammate that I've been lucky enough to run with for these last four years. You guys are really what has made this experience so wonderful and you have all pushed me to be better in some way or another. I know I wouldn't be here without you guys!

Lastly, thanks to my mom, for her constant support and encouragement. You all mean the world to me and I couldn't have done any of this without you.

Q) Is there anything else you'd like to add?

From my favorite pro run‚Äčner, Alexi Pappas: "‚Äčtraining is like building a sandcastle. every grain of sand is important, even if you can't see them all." I have really resonated with this idea in recent years and I think it applies to so much more than running. Running and life alike are all about hard work, integrity, and growth. This is ultimately what running has taught me and this is what I'll take with me for all my future activities.

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