Park City’s Kaylee Hale just loves to run
The sophomore is one of Park City’s best runners
Park City sophomore Kaylee Hale dropped to a knee and tried to get her footing right in the blocks ahead of the start of the third heat of the girls 400-meter event on the first day of the Region 6 Championships on Wednesday.
The 400-meter event is a little foreign to Hale, who usually runs the 800- or 1600-meter events. She’s been a part of 4×400-meter relay teams in the past, but she said that Wednesday was the first time she’d run in an open 400-meter event. The 400 is such a change of pace for Hale that she’s never used blocks before – she’s only worked on her starts over the last couple of days.
Hale took her spot in the eighth lane, where she would be starting the furthest up and running on the furthest outside lane. Once the gun goes off, Hale bursts out of the blocks and gets to work. Because of her lane position, there’s no one in front of her – she just has to worry about other runners catching up to her.
They don’t come anywhere close to Hale. She hits the first straightaway and extends her lead as she approaches the final turn. She rounds the turn and explodes down the final stretch. She crosses the finish line with a time of 58.73 seconds, the fastest time that day by just over a full second. The nearest person in her heat was almost 2.5 seconds behind her.
“It was kind of hard to tell because I was in Lane 8, so I wasn’t sure how far ahead I was a lot,” Hale said. “It just kind of felt more like a time trial because I’m not used to competitively running on our track.”
Most runners would be thrilled with that kind of race, but Hale was a little underwhelmed.
“It felt kind of rough,” she said. “Starting in Lane 8 isn’t my favorite, and this is my first 400 this year. It was OK. Not my favorite.”
A day later, Hale finished third in the finals for the 400 with a nearly identical time of 58.76. Even though she’s just a sophomore, Hale has been one of Park City’s top runners this year. But for her, it’s all about getting better and continuing to foster her love of running.
“I think it was our fifth grade track meet, actually,” Hale said. “I heard this announcement about a running camp, and that running camp turned into Park City Running Club. So, I kind of got into it after fifth grade, and I’ve loved it ever since.”
It was at the Park City Running Club where Hale also first realized that she had a gift for running. She recalled that she ran a 400, the same event that she ran this week at the region meet, when she was 11 or 12 and felt pretty good about it. Park City coach Dave Yocum noted that, because she started running at such a young age, she has an advantage.
“Her training age is probably greater than a lot of the other athletes because she’s been running track for quite a while,” he said. “From a training standpoint, she’s been doing this for a long time – so we call that training age. Hopefully, she’ll keep progressing. But she understands what it takes, and so she’s just kind of ahead of a lot of people because of that. She runs like a senior, even though she’s a sophomore.”
She runs year-round for Park City, as she also runs on the cross-country team. Hale came in 33rd at last fall’s state championship and third among Park City runners.
Hale has had plenty of standout races on the track as well this season for the Miners. Her favorite one was in March at the Pine View Invitational in the 800. She finished the event with a personal record of 2:14.48 and finished third.
“I just had a good start, and I felt like I could kind of sustain my pace the whole time and then have a good kick at the end,” she said. “Which is just what you hope for for an 800.”
Yocum was impressed by her performance in the 1600 at the BYU Invitational earlier this month. She came in with a time of 5:07.75 to finish 14th in a massive field of runners. Hale is a time-oriented runner versus worrying about placement, which helps in large meets. Yocum added that she’s always focused on improving her times.
“She’s very critical about what she does,” he said. “And that’s a testament to her – she’s always trying to get better. It’ll come, and the things we’re doing right now hopefully pay off when we go to state and she runs the (800) and we go back for the 4×400.”
Hale’s goals aren’t about finishing in a specific position. She’s hoping to finish close to the 2:14 mark again in the 800 and wants to break the school record someday. But most of all, she wants to continue to push herself as much as she can.
“I definitely feel like every time you go out there, you’re just kind of racing yourself,” Hale said. “You’re trying to push yourself past what you already have done. And it’s not going to be necessarily every time that you’re pushing yourself beyond what someone else has. For me, it’s definitely personal and against myself.”
Junior Easton Brotherson has noticed Hale’s love for running as one of her teammates.
“She’s never in a bad mood,” he said. “She’s always very happy and very controlled while she’s running and after, too. She’s very light-hearted.”
Brotherson, who usually competes in the hurdles events for Park City, finds the 400 to be a difficult event to run, but he’s impressed with how little it fazes Hale.
“It’s so funny because it’s such a hard race,” he said. “I personally or some of my other friends, we don’t talk afterwards. We’re, like, throwing up or anything. She just walks off and is smiling. It’s really funny.”
Regardless of how the state meet, which will be held from May 19 to May 21 at BYU, goes for Hale, she continues to work and improve at the sport she loves. She has plenty of time to better her times since she’s still just a sophomore. Hale hopes to run in college someday, too.
“I’m definitely looking forward to my junior and senior year,” she said. “I love running so much, it’s my heart and soul. I live and breathe running, and so I’m going to train as hard as I can.”
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