​Gaining confidence: Kelsey White-Kennedy

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Travelers Rest's Kelsey White-Kennedy talks about growing in the sport and challenges.

Name: Kelsey White-Kennedy
Personal bests: 100m - 12.58, 200- 25.99, 100H- 14.80, 400H- 1:08
Academic interest: English and social studies
Hobbies: Photography, volleyball, and basketball.
Interesting fact: I decided at the last minute to run track in eighth grade, and it's easily one of the best decisions I've ever made.

How did you get involved in the sport and why?
My brother ran track and convinced me to try it.

How have you seen it change?
I've noticed the growth in younger athletes. Every year it seems like the top 8 at state consist of more younger athletes than older ones.

How do you feel you have grown in the sport?
I feel I've made a complete 180 from where I started. I started off barely making it to state qualifiers to placing within the top five at state qualifiers. I also feel track has changed me, as at first I was this shy girl and now I leave almost every meet with a new friend.

What has been your motivation for this season?
My motivation for this season was beating my previous times and trying to improve every meet and making it to the state meet. My coaches and family really pushed me to try different things, and they pushed me to work harder and harder every practice.

How do you look at the rankings?
I see the rankings as motivation to get better. I want to run those times and have my name beside number one. I also see rankings as something that's not set in stone, and at any moment someone new could be number one so I know I have to work hard to run my times consistently while also trying to improve.

What goes throughout your mind as the gun is getting ready to go as you are waiting in the blocks or starting line?
Whenever the official say "runners take your mark" I say a quick prayer while waiting on the "get set.". While waiting on the gun I remember what my coach always tell me before I run, "Attack the hurdles." When the gun goes off I try to get out of the blocks fast and run my race.

Do you have a pre race tradition? Please explain.
I always pray before every race, stretch as much as possible, and I try to keep my mind off the races because I usually get really nervous.

How would you rate your season so far?
So far I have to rate my season an 8.5 because I know I have room to improve and my season isn't over yet. I don't know where I'll place at state.

Do you have any family members involved in the sport? Please explain.
My older brother Bradley ran track and introduced me to the sport.

What challenges have you encountered in the sport?
One of the challenges I've faced in track was getting the confidence to hurdle again. Two years ago when I first started running track, I tried hurdles and I liked them a lot. When it came to my first meet I fell, and at first I was embarrassed but soon I got over it. Then came the bigger meets like the Kevin Logan Memorial. I was in the middle of running the 100 hurdles, and I fell causing me to scrap my knee really bad. I tried to get up and finish, but I fell again. After going at it the third time I pushed down the rest of the hurdles. I was embarrassed. I cried a lot, and it hurt me mentally. After that I never wanted to hurdle again the rest of that season. The next year during my freshman year I tried them again. I only ran them once or twice my freshman year, but at the start of my sophomore year I told myself I'm going to hurdle consistently again. I was nervous at first but after working on my form and gaining back the confidence I lost, I can finally say I've gotten over my fear of embarrassing myself again and I'm going to state!

Have you ever been injured? Please explain.
Fortunately, I've never had a serious injury but towards the middle of this season, my hamstring started to bother me, but it wasn't anything major.

What do you hope to achieve in the sport and in life in the future?
I hope to win state at least once, break some records, and compete at nationals. I also hope to inspire some people to try new things and not to be scared of failing a few times before actually succeeding.

Do you have post season track plans?
I plan to do some training this summer, and in the fall I will play volleyball. After volleyball season I'll start back training for the upcoming track season.

What is your favorite workout and why?
I don't really have a favorite workout, but the most memorable workout is when our coach took us down to the sandpits and made us do high knees, butt kicks, bear crawls and sprints through the sand to work on our dig and to make sure we run with our knees up. It was hard, but we got through it and it really helped us.

What goals have you set for the rest of the season?
My goals for the rest of the season is to hopefully get another PR in the 100H, 400H, and 4X1. I hope to end my season with a state title in one (or all) of those events.

Looking at the 2014 state meet, what do you remember and how did that make you prepare for the 2015 state meet?
Unfortunately, I didn't make it to state last year, I missed going by eight hundredths of a second in the 100. Looking back it made me work even harder to go this year. Last year I really didn't think I would've made it, but seeing how close I was to making last year made me realized I have to work twice as hard to go this year.

If there is one thing in the world you could do, what it would it be and why?
The one thing I would love to do would be go to the Olympics, either to compete or just to watch. I'd love to be in the presence of the best-of-the-best and to see what they do before races.

Fun questions
Pre-race pump-up song: 7/11- Beyoncé
Post-race meal: Moe's Southwest Grill
Go-to karaoke song: Whatever is stuck in my head, haha.
Favorite book: The Perks Of Being a Wallflower
Last movie you watched: The Little Mermaid
Favorite race or event to watch: Men's 4x4
If you could go on a run with any athlete, who would it be?: Lolo Jones and Jasmin Stowers