UW's Campbell Leads The Way For Huskies

Washington senior Kailey Campbell tried to fight off a career as a runner. No, she said, I'm going to play soccer.

After playing soccer for several years, she began running as a way to stay in shape on the pitch. She joined the track and field team in high school during her freshman year, and used it to become a better overall athlete. Her coach saw immediate potential, and encouraged the gifted athlete to join the cross country team. For three years, Campbell turned down the opportunity and focused on soccer. But when her senior year of high school arrived, she started to look a little bit further down the road.

"It came down to my senior year, and I knew that if I wanted to run in college, I needed to run cross country," Campbell said.

It turned out to be a greet decision for the Seattle, Wash., native. And being from the area, it was a natural fit for Campbell to attend the University of Washington.

"Washington was a little bit of an athletics choice as well as academics for me, and staying close to my family," Campbell said. "It's really worked out well."

Going from high school cross country to elite-level collegiate competition was a major transition. In high school, Campbell typically ran 15 miles a week.

"My first couple of years at [Washington] were kind of rocky," she said. "Coming in, running 15 to 40 miles a week was definitely really hard. And I was doing that with school at the same time."

But running had become a passion for Campbell, and it was clear that she would stick with it.

"I really like running because, aside from the whole competition aspect, you get to have your own time to reflect on your day," Campbell said. "It's kind of an energy release. It's stress-relief almost. It's just you out there."

This love and gift of running came as no surprise. Campbell's mother picked up the sport of running in high school herself, and could often be found running and training for marathons during Campbell's childhood.

The young Campbell would get on her bicycle and chase her mother around Green Lake Park, a large area of water and green space in the middle of urban Seattle. As she grew older, she started running with her mother instead of following behind on a bike.

"I think it was up until my senior year of high school, she could still beat me," Campbell said. "And it's definitely something we still do together."

Campbell's mother was a clear influence in her daughter's path to a life of running. She and Campbell's father both had an influence on their daughter's path to becoming a Husky.

"My parents have been really good about letting me make my own choices. But I will say having had my parents both go here, I grew up a Husky," Campbell said. "I did look at other schools, but I liked the blend that UW had. It's really good academics, and the athletic department here has been amazing."

Campbell credits much of her success and development to head coach Greg Metcalf. After admittedly struggling in her first year as a Husky, it was Metcalf's guidance that got her to the next level.

"He's someone that is really looking at the person, and the kind of person that you are and whether he can shape and mold you," Campbell said. "I think that under any other coach, I don't know if I would have had as good of an experience."

Campbell and the Huskies have had a successful 2010 season so far, and are ready for this weekend's Pac-10 Championships. Because the event is taking place in Seattle this year, Campbell is determined to have a good showing.

"The [Pac-10 Championships] are very important to us because it is in our hometown. And not only is it the hometown for my school, but it's also my hometown," Campbell said.

Campbell suffered a knee injury at the Pre-Nationals meet on October 16, but hopes to be ready for post-season competition and realizes that injuries are the name of the game.

"It's a bit frustrating. You come back for your fifth-year senior year, and you want to be perfect. But that's the thing: it's never really perfect," Campbell said. "There's never one day that you feel absolutely great. It's about dealing with those things."

No matter the results of this season, Campbell has found a life-long friend in running.

"After my college career is done," she said, "it's definitely something I'm going to continue doing."

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