HAILEY • Age is only a number for Kirsys Campbell.
While she is only a freshman this year at Wood River, Campbell has no shortage of running experience, having trained for and competed in national meets since fifth grade.
Her breadth of experience likely matches, if not surpasses, that of many area upperclassmen, her father and coach, Brady Campbell, believes.
Those years of training have paid off.
In a year that saw perhaps as strong a freshman group as District IV girls cross country has ever seen, Campbell reigned supreme, taking eighth at the state meet in 19:42.12 and besting all other area runners, freshmen though seniors. For that, Campbell is the 2014 Times-News Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year.
“To do well at races and travel places, it’s just fun to do what you like and get better,” she said.
Growing up first in Utah and then Wyoming before moving to the Wood River Valley, Kirsys would accompany her father, a teacher, to the track after school. It was only natural for an interest in running to follow, but she eventually began running so much–23 miles a week as a fourth grader—that Brady began scaling her training back to avoid overuse injuries and burnout.
Besides, she had other athletic pursuits to occupy her time. Kirsys also competes in Nordic skiing and swimming and aspires to pursue both cross country and skiing in college.
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In the spring, she also takes part in track, though that is largely an extension of her cross country training.
“I’d say we train her more like a 400 or 800 runner than a distance runner,” Brady Campbell said. “Naturally she has a lot of endurance, but she’s not the fastest on the track. The speed’s more important to develop in our minds. So far she seems to respond.”
Going into this season, with the distances of high school races significantly longer, there was some concern that her familiar training regimen may no longer work. However, one season in, the results seem to speak for themselves.
Along with balancing her numerous different sports, there is a balancing act within cross country itself for Kirsys between local meets and national competitions.
Starting in 2010 when the meet was in Sacramento, Kirsys has competed in USATF Olympic Junior Nationals every year. The first year was humbling, she said, but also invigorated her interesting in running even more.
This year, with the meet held just outside of Houston in July, she took 13th nationally in her age group.
“I like to go places,” Kirsys said. “It’s motivating to be able to run hard to go different places.”