Kayla Yanskey, senior at Helias, is in her 5th year of running cross country. Yanskey started running in 8th grade after much encouragement from her future coaches and teammates. Her plan was to only run in 8th grade but she decided she wanted to try to run in high school at the fall sports meeting.
“A lot of coaches and soon-to-be teammates kept encouraging me to try it out because they said I was very gifted,” said Yanskey. “I actually did not plan on running in high school but decided to try it out the day of the fall sports meeting.”
Yanskey and the cross country (XC) team practice every day after school and have a meet almost every weekend. Despite some people believing the sport is strictly an individual sport, the individual side is only a piece of a larger team sport.
“A lot of people think cross country is just about the individual but that is totally wrong,” said Yanskey. “I wouldn’t even be close to where I am today without my teammates pushing me every day in practice, helping me prepare for races, and racing our hardest together. If one person is struggling, the whole team is. The individual aspect of the sport is setting goals for myself. I try to challenge myself to placing in the top 5, 10, etc., in every meet or to always have a goal time. My individual goals help the team overall.”
To prepare for a meet, Yanskey runs several miles on different terrains while also keeping her body in top shape with yoga and ice baths.
“Our mileage per week usually varies,” Yanskey said. “We mix in a lot of long runs and speed workouts such as hills, repeats, or fartleks, as well as yoga. The past couple weeks I think we have ran close to 30 miles counting our race day. I prepare for meets by eating lots of pasta with my teammates (probably too much) and training hard all week. I enjoy ice baths and lots of good sleep! The morning of, I’m very mentally focused and ready to run with my teammates.”
Cross country requires runners to be in shape and can be a very challenging sport. For Yanksey, the challenge is part of the reason she enjoys running. She also has a bond with her team that makes it that much better.
“The thing I enjoy most about XC is the relationships and bonds I have formed with my teammates,” stated Yanskey. “I also love to be challenged. Cross country is a very mentally and physically challenging sport and that’s what I enjoy about it so much. I love to compete and this sport lets me push myself to the best I can physically be.”
Yanskey’s running times are not quite where she wants them to be, but she plans to improve and work every day until she gets there.
“My record this season is not quite where I would like it to be at. I believe my fastest time this season so far is 20:14,” said Yanskey. “My goal is to break 20 minutes and get back down to where I was in previous seasons.”
Yanskey and the rest of the cross country team are back in action on Saturday, October 15 at Washington for the Borgia Invitational. The meet should start around 8:30 a.m.
“The more fans and encouragement we have, the better! Cross country fans and families are so great to cheer us on at meets,” said Yanskey. “We would love to see everyone at state this year because I am very confident in the improving team we have!”