Fletcher High School sophomore Kayley Delay finished 31st at last year's 4A Cross Country Finals and was 71st at the Foot Locker South Regional. After finishing 8th in the 3,200m at the 4A state championship and running a season best of 11:08.28, Delay logged nearly 350 miles this summer combined with cross training and workouts six days a week. This season she is off to a great start, winning her first meet of the year, the University of North Florida 110% XC Invitational, in 18:31.97, the second fastest time in her high school career.
Interview with Fletcher High School (FL) sophomore Kayley Delay
How did you get started in the sport?
My parents both ran cross country at FIU, with coach Mike Becker, so I grew up with idea of running in the back of my mind. I grew up playing multiple sports, but I was most dedicated to soccer which I played since I was four. I decided last year that it would be my final year playing. I did a few 5k's when I was younger and ran middle school track at FMS, but it wasn't until my first cross country season (last year) that I realized I really enjoyed the sport.
How hard was it to give up soccer and how did that sport help you become the runner you are today?
I played outside midfield and forward when I played soccer, which involved a lot of running. It was hard giving up soccer, for I loved the game and it was so much fun playing, but I knew I couldn't be completely dedicated to both, so I chose to focus on cross country and track.
What was your summer training like?
My summer training went very well. I ran a total of 344 miles, which was way more than I did the summer before 9th grade. I ran Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday with my team, Fletcher, I ran the bridges with my dad on Thursday nights, and did my long run on Sunday with either the Bolles girls (who are all amazing) or with a friend. I got my long run up to 9 miles, which was a little jump for me. I also swam some and did core and upper body exercises a few times a week.
You opened up the 2014 season this past weekend at the University of North Florida 110% XC Invitational where you finish first in 18:31.97. Talk about that race.
This weekend at UNF was thrilling! The meet was very well organized, the course was simple but nice, and it was a very fun race. I was excited to see my fellow running friends from the other schools and of course I was excited since it was one of Fletchers first meets of the season! The race itself was intense; there was a pack of us all running together for the majority of the race. I felt great coming into this meet and was very happy with my time.
Where do you think you're at early on in the season?
Already, this season, I feel that I am in much better shape than I was at the beginning of last season. My PR of 18:29.00 is from Foot Locker South last November. At UNF this past weekend I ran my second best time ever, 18:31.97! It is extremely exciting to come out in the first meet and run about as good as I did at the end of last season!
Fletcher isn't a powerhouse program. How do you stay motivated throughout the season being the top girl on the team?
Fletcher may not have a humongous team with four or five coaches, but we have Coach Holloway and we have each other to keep us all motivated and working hard! Most of us ran together all summer and are in great shape, ready to break all our PR's, and qualify this year for states. Our Fletcher girls' team was shy 2 points from making it to states last season, but we are working harder and smarter and are looking forward to beingTallahassee bound come November
What does it mean to you to be ranked the top sophomore in the state and one of the top sophomores in the country?
The thought of being ranked high in the sophomore class is overwhelming, but very exciting! It's motivating knowing that my season has started out strong, but I also know so many amazing sophomores, juniors, seniors, freshman, and also crazy-good middle school runners that I will be racing this year. So to be ranked high is thrilling, but it's really the race that counts.
You were 31st at the 4A Cross Country finals last year. What are your goals for 2014?
My goals for this year are to, of course, improve! I am striving to place higher in races but, more importantly, to have a faster time at each course/race than last years. The main goal is also for my team to qualify for states this year, where I hope to medal.
What do you love most about running?
I love that running is something that anyone can do, at anytime, and anywhere, and all you need is a pair of running shoes and yourself! Like this summer I went camping with my family at Ft. Clinch State Park. It was so cool that I got to run on different paths and trails, somewhere I never had before. I love how adjustable and individual running can be, compared to other sports, and how you can run alone, but also with friends, family, or your team. There are no restraints when it comes to getting a run in, Going for a nice easy run is something I really value, but I also love challenging myself in races too. Lastly, I love crossing the finish line. That is a great feeling!