From The Daily: Making Strides
Nov. 19, 2009
By Zachary Gussin
Kendra Schaaf, UW: winner of the North American, Central American and Caribbean Cross Country Championship as a senior in high school.
Jordan Hasay, UO: two-time Foot Locker Champion, two-time USA Track and Field Cross Country Junior Champion.
Mel Lawrence, UW: four-time Foot Locker All-American, three-time runner-up.
Kailey Campbell, UW: did not compete in high school.
Listed above are the first four women across the line at the West Regional cross-country meet in Springfield, Ore., this past Saturday, along with highlights from their high-school cross-country careers. Three of them were among the most successful runners in the history of high-school cross country. The fourth, Kailey Campbell, played soccer for Ballard High School in the fall. Campbell did run track in the spring, but she specialized in the middle-distance events of the mile and 800-meter dash. Though Ballard is only four miles from the UW, Campbell has come a long way since her time there. However, it would be inaccurate to portray her emergence among the top cross-country runners in the nation as a surprise. To anyone who knows her, it's really anything but.
Head coach Greg Metcalf picked up on this while recruiting her as a senior.
'The one thing I was struck by when I went and visited her,' Metcalf said, 'was that she came across as a young woman who did not know how to fail. She's incredibly smart, a very bright young woman, and she has some talent, but more importantly, she had self confidence.'
Campbell's teammate, Colton Tully-Doyle, expressed a similar impression.
'She's super nice, but underneath that kind person who's helped me out, she's so competitive that, in a split second, she will bring the fury,' Tully-Doyle said. 'If I challenge her to something, it's like a switch is turned. Immediately, she wants to win, and she'll rain down hell on me.'
That passion for competition has been a constant in Campbell's career as a runner.
'When I was a little kid on the playground, I was always challenging kids,' Campbell said. 'It was, `Oh, you want to race? Lets race!' I guess I've always had that drive.'
As a freshman lacking the cross-country experience of her teammates, that drive could sometimes get her into trouble. She went from running about 15 miles a week for 12-15 weeks a year in high school, to the UW, where she was expected to run 40 miles a week.
'It was a big change, and I was really feeling it freshman year,' Campbell said. 'I was tired all the time. I came in anemic, and that made it a little more difficult. But if there were shorter workouts where I felt I could put my nose in it and compete with the other girls to push myself harder, I did. That helped me, but it hurt me, too, because the next day I'd be even more tired. Quite frankly, I came to UW, and I got schooled. I was tired, and I couldn't do anything. I didn't want that to happen again, and I don't like to lose.'
Since then, Campbell has put together the years of consistent and rigorous training that have led to her current cross-country success.
'Coach Metcalf is a really good coach, and he's going to do what's best for his athletes,' Campbell said. 'It comes down to consistency, especially when it comes to 5k and 6k. It takes a little while. A lot of the girls coming in have been doing this since they were 14 or 15 years old.'
It hasn't always been easy, and there have been plenty of obstacles to overcome. Campbell had pneumonia her freshman year, bronchitis last year, and has battled through injury after injury. On top of that, Campbell had to stay motivated during the bleak Seattle winters.
'I'm like everyone else,' said Campbell, 'and there are days when it's pouring rain, and I think, `Oh my gosh, I don't want to do this.' But I do it because I know the end result is something that I want to put my time into.'
Metcalf has been there to watch her development and has played a key role in it as well.
'Kailey, over the last three years, has really developed,' Metcalf said. 'Part of that has been that I've been pretty hard on her sometimes. I wasn't going to let her be anything less than great. There were moments along the way when she couldn't finish a workout or a race. This year we learned from a bad Notre Dame Invite and from stopping at PAC-10s, but she's trained at a high level, she's been consistent over time, and that's led her to where she is now.'
Monday, the Huskies will be counting on Campbell to help lead the women in their national championship-defense bid. If the course conditions comply, Campbell could find herself toward the front of the pack again.
'She could be 20th, she could be 15th [at nationals],' predicted Metcalf. 'She'll be aggressive, and she'll go run with her teammates.'
Campbell's own predictions are very much the same.
'At nationals, I'm going to put myself in a position where I have a chance to finish well. I do have goals: I'd like to achieve an All-American title,' Campbell said. 'I'm not saying it's not going to be comfortable, but in the past, that's how I've done well. I like to kick, and I like to sink my teeth into it.'
If Terre Haute is as wet and muddy as Springfield was last Saturday, and the race goes out at a conservative pace as a result, expect Campbell to be running with the rest of the nation's fastest runners. After the last few seasons, she certainly belongs with that group.
'What our races have shown us is that, as a team, we do have that depth, where if you fall down you know someone's got your back. But we'll still bring it every time,' she said. 'Right now, it's the end of the cross-country season, it's nationals, and it's all about racing bodies.'