Interview: From N.C. to S.C. for Beaufort's Kaila Smith

Full name: Kaila Xiomara Smith
Hobbies: Training/tweeting
Academic Interest: Medical/Physical Training
Favorite spikes: Puma
Event PRs: 400 hurdles - 1:01.16; 100 hurdles - 14.5; 300 hurdles - 44.94; 200 - 25.48; HJ - 5'3" 

How and when did you get involved in track and field? 
 I needed to be more physically active in middle school because I started gaining too much weight, so I started playing sports. Then  I needed a sport to play after volleyball and basketball seasons, so I started running track.

What have you learned from the sport?
 I learned things aren't usually as simple as they often seem. There are alot of technical aspects to running in general and hurdling specifically, so many times just being able to run fast isn't enough. I also learned that in order to be one of the best doing only what is required isn't good enough. Regular track practice isn't enough time to get in all the work that needs to be done, so having a commitment to do the extra work on weekends and after practice is neccesary to be able to compete with the top athletes. Which applies when it comes to academics and any other thing we want to be exceptional at doing.

How have you seen yourself progress in the sport? 
 My biggest step forward came when I joined the Charlotte Heat track club. Running AAU track was a totally different world that running high school track. I started running against the top talent in the state (N.C.) every weekend which really clued me in to how much more work I needed to do in order to be one of the top sprinters/hurdlers in the country. I worked very hard to become a technically sound hurdler and sprinter, but I know I still have alot to learn. My AAU Coach, William Bullard (Coach Will), pushed and encouraged me to push myself beyond what I thought I could do. I remember that I actually cried the 1st time I was "forced" to run the 400m H and now that is my favorite track and field event. Everytime I run I can still hear him saying, "You gotta go, Kaila!!"
Do you have any family members involved in the sport? 
 Both my parents ran hurdles in high school and made it to the state championships. My mom's team won three state championships while she ran for Beaufort. My dad who is a USATF certified coach has been my primary hurdle/sprint coach over the past couple years. We've experimented, grown and learned alot about track together and his is my top supporter.

What is your favorite workout and why? 
This might seem corny, but this year I've loved them all. It's awesome to be able to know that my workouts have a purpose. The tough workouts aren't so tough anymore, because regardless of what workout I do I know it is geared towards helping to stregthen my strentgths and weaken my weaknesses which usually pays dividends in the form of race improvements and personal records.

How is training going this season? 
Things are going well. After working on speed and technique for most of the winter season, I'm now increasing my endurance and speed endurance training for the 400 and 400 hurdles. Coach (Herbert) Glaze has helped me with some drills that have helped me with my hurdling technique, so I'm pleased with were I am at this stage of the season. 
What goals do you have as an individual and team this season?
I would like to run under 14.2 secs in the 100 hurdles and under one minute in the 400 hurdles. I would ultimately like to win the 100 hurdles and 400 hurdles state titles.  This is my first year competing in the 200, so it would be nice to also medal at state in that event. I also plan to run a few national or international meets this summer, so I would like to be able to consistently run under one minute in the 400 hurdles by the end of the summer.
What event do you feel you enjoy the most in track and field, why?  
I enjoy the 400 hurdles the most, because it is one of the most challenging events to master. There aren't many people who like to run it and even less who can run it well. 
What do you hope to achieve in college? 
 Win team and individual NCAA Championships and qualify for the 2016 Olympics.
How do you balance sports and academics? 
It takes alot of commitment and long hours in both. Just a matter of setting priorities.
What sport do you enjoy the most, why? 
 Other than track, I enjoy volleyball. I've played volleyball since I was in middle school. My previous volleyball coach, Zoe Bell, was also my athletic fitness instructor and she taught me alot about volleyball and fitness which has helped me to become more well rounded athlete.

What has been your motivation? 
 My motivation has been to work to be one of the best against all odds.
What challenges have you encountered in the sport? 
 My biggest challenge early on was to have adequate coaching and support. My dad was almost forced into a coaching role, so I've had a steep learning curve over the past two years. My current school/team is very supportive and I now definitely appreciate a great high coach who values sprinters and understands my individual goals contribute to the team's success.
As one of the top sprinters/hurdles in the state, how do you go about looking at training and competing? 
 My overall goal go beyond being the best in the state, so I train as if I'm just another sprinter trying to be the best. I've been fortunate to be able to travel to many competitive meets in many states, so I know there are many runners out there who are better than I am.
Tell us about Florida and winning two events, how was that experience?
Running and winning in Florida was a great experience.  It's always good to be able to validate my training by posting good times, because that only motivates me to work harder. I'm happy to be doing well in the short hurdles since I don't consider that my primary race.
What would you like to achieve at Taco Bell Classic?  
I would like to win the 400 hurdles. Last year I was way ahead through seven hurdles until I stutter stepped over two of the last three hurdles, so I definitely have something to prove against the tough competition that will be in that event. I was cut from my track team last year for running the 400 hurdles at this meet, so that definitely serves a big motivation for me to perform well in the 400 hurdles.  I would also like to place well in the 200, 100 hurdles and 4x400 relay which will hopefully help my team place at or close to the top of the team scoring.

Where did you compete before S.C. and have you noticed any differences?
I competed in N.C. prior to competing in S.C. N.C. has indoor track and very strong summer AAU/USATF programs, so there is ample competition in all events all year long. S.C. seems to have a couple powerhouse teams, but no winter track makes it difficult to get competive reps in the winter and early in the season when the weather is no so good.
If there is one thing in the world you could do, what would it be and why? 
 Break the world record in the 400 hurdles! That would be awesome!!!
Quick questions
Favorite book: Great Gatsby
Favorite movie: Taken 
Favorite track and field facility: Spring Valley HS
Person you admire: My mom and my dad
Interesting fact: My mother was born in Panama
Most unique life experience: Being barred from practicing outside of track practice and being cut from my track team