The promising Sacred Heart freshman runner finished first at the AACA Cross-Country Championships, was runner-up at the PIAA District One meet, placed 14th at the PIAA State Championships at Hershey, and finished in the top two in every AACA league meet this season.
Q: Tell us a little about the course conditions at the AACA Championships. What was your most vivid memory of that race? What do you think was the key to your performance that day?
A: The heat and humidity made it challenging to run that day – earlier in the summer, before preseason, I ran a few races, and I guess my training in the heat helped me at the league championship. During that race, the part I remember most was when Emma [Seifried], Hannah [Seifried] and I were climbing the steepest hill on the course, which was right before the one-mile mark. At the top of the hill, we could see Coach [Kara] Rufo, Coach Lauren [Apakian] and our teammates cheering for us – that psyched us up and encouraged all of us to finish strong.
Q: Tell us a little about your experience at the PIAA state championship race, and the course conditions.
A: The state meet was just an amazing experience. Coming from a small CYO running program, I never experienced anything like that meet with so many athletes, parents, and fans all in one place. The course was definitely the hardest course all season with several steep uphills, one of which was right before the home stretch.
Q: What do you consider your best cross-country race of this season, and why?
A: I think my best race was at the Paul Short course in the District One meet at Lehigh University. I ran a PR and my team crossed the finish line with our runners in first, second and third place.
Q: You’ve got a couple of standout runners in teammates Hannah and Emma Seifried. What has been the most important thing you have learned from them this season?
A: Emma and Hannah are incredible people. It has been awesome to run with them as a freshman and learn about high school running. Emma is my “big sister” at Sacred Heart and has not only helped me adjust to the new level of cross country, but also to high school as a whole. Hannah is a great athlete who selflessly ran for the cross country team this fall even though it’s not her favorite sport. Emma and Hannah have been welcoming to and supportive of me and have set an example that I intend to follow over my next three years at Sacred Heart as younger runners join our program.
Q: Briefly describe for us your pre-race preparation (physical, mental) on the day of a race.
A: On a personal level, I stay hydrated and am constantly going over the course in my head. My teammates and I try to keep each other loose by making jokes and having fun before warmups and during the course walk.
Q: Tell us a little about your running shoes, the type of shoe you favor and why.
A: For practice shoes, I use New Balance because of the support and cushion in the heel. On race day, I have a pair of Asics spikes that have not yet failed to get me through a race with little to no pain…fingers crossed.
Q: What has been the most important thing you have learned on the cross-country track this season?
A: As a runner, one of the most important things is to know yourself and how you run. Throughout the many different races this season, I feel that I have learned a lot about myself as a runner: what terrain I like, what parts of the race are my strengths and where I need to focus in order to improve.
Q: What’s your favorite local running venue and why?
A: My favorite running venue is Belmont Plateau because I really like the wooded section of the course. I love the quiet and cool atmosphere in the woods followed by the loud cheers from family members and supporters as the runners push through the finish.
Q: What aspect of your running are you working on most recently?
A: Since last year was my first year as a cross country runner, there are still many aspects of the sport that I am learning In the past few races, Coach [Michael] McDonnell has helped me focus on committing to the finish at greater distances out. I feel like this is making me a stronger runner, but it is still something that I can do better.
Q:Do you participate in any other sports or extracurricular activities at Sacred Heart? What sparked your interest in these activities?
A: I play basketball and plan to run track and play lacrosse in the spring. I also participate in the drama club as well as student council, where I will work to establish a volunteer program that will help Sacred Heart students participate in service activities. As a freshman, I am still learning about the many activities that are available at Sacred Heart and look forward to getting involved in them.
Q: What is your favorite class at Sacred Heart? Is there a career field that particularly interests you at the present time?
A: My favorite class is either Biology or English. I love to write and paint a picture with words, and I have always taken a natural liking to science. Growing up, my mom says that I was the “doctor” of the household – meaning I loved to put on the band-aids when my younger brother would scrape his knee. Over the years, I have become even more fascinated with how the human body works and since I love taking care of children, I hope to one day become a pediatric orthopedist.
Fun facts – Kayleigh Doyle
Favorite book: The Divergent Series.
Favorite TV show: Downton Abbey.
Favorite movie: Monsters Inc.
Favorite athlete: Molly Siedel.
Favorite team: Villanova men’s basketball.
Favorite place to visit: My Nana’s house.
Favorite pre-race meal: Oatmeal.
Favorite color: Blue.
Person I most admire: “I admire my mom and dad the most because of their love, perseverance, dedication to our family and message to ‘Never give up the fight.'”
Birth date: Aug. 2, 2002 in Downingtown.
Family members: parents MariBeth and Jim, brothers Kevan and Shane, dog Mackey.
(To be selected as Main Line Girls Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by her coach.)
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