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Meet the Utes: Keelah Barger

Mar 16, 2022

Next up in our Meet the Utes series is Keelah Barger, who is a new addition to the Utah cross country and track & field teams. Barger is a graduate student studying molecular and cellular biology.

Barger chose the University of Utah after meeting the coaching staff and has really enjoyed her time in SLC. "I really felt like the coaches were what I was looking for in terms of training and just knowing I was going be surrounded by such fast people was really exciting for me." she said. "It's been amazing. I really feel like I've been able to elevate my training and I get pushed so hard which is really exciting."

She wasn't always a runner. In fact, Barger didn't begin her running career until her senior year of high school. "I was a soccer player my whole life and once I started to prefer the soccer conditioning over actually playing soccer, I decided I should switch and started running."

Despite her late start, Barger seems to have found her sport in cross country. "I honestly just love the training. I love being able to go out every day with my teammates and just enjoy the outdoors and talk and get to know them really well. I think that is a unique aspect of the sport, being able to bond so much during training."

One of the people who inspire Barger the most as an athlete is American Alpine Skier Mikaela Shiffrin. "There's a downhill skier named Mikaela Shiffrin, who is one of the most decorated skiers of all time and she fell, I think, four times at the Olympics this past year, which is really cool. I feel like she is just a good example of being successful but also failing and coming back from that."

Barger helped guide the Utes to a remarkable cross country season last fall. One of her best memories with the team took place at one of their most successful meets. "Getting second at the Pac-12 Championships this past fall for cross country was really amazing. We really wanted to win it but getting runner-up and five runners in the top-16 was really incredible."

Barger does not want to stop there. Her and her teammates have their sights set higher. "It'd be really awesome to have a top-10 cross country team finish at nationals next year, and just run some really fast times on the course."

Many athletes in Barger's position struggle to stay motivated, but she seems to have found the perfect mindset. "Knowing that consistency is what's going to pay off in the end keeps me motivated. Even if I don't want to go for a run one day or do some little stupid thing, it's just knowing that if it keeps stacking up, it's going to pay off and I think that keeps me motivated."

Barger and the Women of Utah open their outdoor track & field season at the Trojan Invitational in Los Angeles this Saturday, March 19, at Cromfield & Loker Stadium.

Q: Where are you from?

A: Flagstaff, AZ

Q: What is your favorite color?
A: Yellow

Q: Do you have any pets?
A: A goldendoodle named Charlie 

Q: What is your favorite TV show?
A: Friends 

Q: What is your favorite drink?
A: Latte  

Q: What song do you listen to before a race?
A: Can't Tell Me Nothing by Kanye West

Q: What word best describes you?
A: Intense

Q: What is your favorite food?
A: Thai

Q: What is the last book you read?
A: Seeing Serena by Gerald Marzorati

Q: What do you wish you knew more about?
A: Backcountry skiing 

Q: What would be your ultimate vacation?
A: St. Moritz, Switzerland

Q: What is your favorite thing about the University of Utah?
A: Being so close to all the mountains!

Q: Who is your favorite musician?
A: Maggie Rogers

Q: What is your dream car?
A: Audi Q8 

Q: What would be your dream job?
A: Professor/Researcher