March 13, 2009
Junior Kailey Campbell, out of Seattle's Ballard High School, has suddenly become one of the fastest mid-distance runners in school history during the 2009 indoor track season. Over the past few weeks, Campbell has shot up the school's indoor Top-10 lists, running the second-fastest 800-meter time (2:07.85) and the third-fastest mile time (4:38.51). The latter time qualified her for NCAA Indoors, but Campbell will forego the mile to focus on the distance medley relay, where she runs the 800-meter leg. Campbell's great year started in cross country, where she was part of UW's Top-10 that won the program's first National Championship. Right before the team bus left for NCAA Indoors, Campbell talked with GoHuskies.com.
GoHuskies.com: You're about to head to your first NCAA track meet, how excited are you for this weekend?
Kailey Campbell: "I'm really excited. I think I've had a big building process to be able to get where I am. I came from a high school that didn't really have much training and I was really sporadic with anything. It's taken a while, I was sick a lot freshman and sophomore years and battling injuries. So it's really cool I'm able to do it. I always knew I'd be able to race like that but to finally be able to do it is really exciting. We have a really great team."
GH: You just ran 4:38 in the mile last week. What was that race experience like?
KC: "It was definitely really exciting. I don't think I really would have been able to do that without Katie (Follett) going out there. She gives me confidence in myself and knowing that we can go out there and do that. I've been training with her and in practice we're right next to each other so I kind of know that I can be there with her, but it was really fun to be able to run the race like that. We may have gone out too fast, we may have made a few mistakes here and there, but to still be able to run like that was a big confidence booster and it was cool to do it with a teammate."
GH: You, Katie, and Christine all qualified in the mile but will be focusing on the DMR instead. What went into that decision?
KC: "When it comes down to it, all of us, Katie, Christine, and I, we all trust Metcalf and the coaching decision with that. To be able to qualify in the mile was huge to me, because the Auto is 4:38-flat, and I was 4:38.5, and I was the last person to make it in. In years past it hasn't been that close, the auto has actually improved. So it was really cool to be able to do that, but having us all scratch really gives confidence in knowing that we're all completely fresh for the relay. Having to run the mile a couple hours before then coming back to the DMR, your legs would have felt a little cranky."
GH: Tennessee has a great time in the DMR and would seem to be the favorite, but do you guys think you're capable of an upset?
KC: "The big thing with our team, going back to cross country, was we always believed in ourselves. Throughout the year people were saying we weren't going to really do it. And one thing that our team really has is belief in ourselves, and knowing that once we all come together we really can do it."
GH: You finished last track season pretty strong. What was your summer training like to get ready for cross country?
KC: "Well I'm the type of person that if you tell me what my training is going to be like, and what I have to go do every day, I'm going to do it and probably push myself harder than the prescribed effort. So with that I trained pretty hard. I had a conversation with Coach Metcalf before summer, and he was kind of laying out things and saying that we were going to have a pretty decent cross country team next year. And the way he almost said it was we would build off cross country. My response was, `Wait a second, I want to do this, too.' So whether or not he intended it like that, that's the way I took it. So I think (contributing to cross country) was really something I worked for every day in the summer."
GH: You didn't run cross country in high school, so did it take you a while to get used to the sport?
KC: "Oh gosh yeah. I ran probably 15 miles a week for 12 weeks out of the year in high school. So I was just kind of like, `Hi, I'm here' and then just done. So it definitely took some adjustment time. Freshman year I knew I was going to redshirt, but it was hit and miss with workouts, and injuries, and I was sick a lot. I was going too hard when maybe I shouldn't have. So there was a big learning curve, and there was a lot of training and base mileage that I needed to get. Gaining consistency is really what's helping me right now."
GH: What was a typical week of training for you this summer?
KC: "I'm still a pretty short mileage person. I probably ran 47-55 depending on the week, but that's compared to my freshman year which was about 25."
GH: Now that the cross country season is a couple months behind you, have you thought back on it and what comes to mind when you do?
KC: "It was like a season from a movie, is really what it felt like; the whole atmosphere starting in preseason training camp all the way through every workout. We had the whole team just working together, keeping each other in check, talking about all the workouts, doing everything perfectly, you could tell it was going to be special."
GH: Was it in any way frustrating knowing that you would have been running in the top-seven at Nationals for basically any other team in the country?
KC: "Actually, it wasn't. And it's funny because the coaches kept saying that over and over again. There were three of us; Kenna, Michelle and myself. They said you guys would be running top this or that, but to me it didn't really affect me, because it was more about the whole atmosphere and everything that was going on around us. Our team was so close that we would always have each other's back."
GH: Last week the cross country team was also named Scholar Team of the Year. That's pretty special to achieve as much as you did athletically but still stay focused on school.
KC: "It's definitely something you have to work at, and finding the right balance is definitely the key. I'm still working on finding the right balance. I take chemistry and biology classes and both have labs. I'm in chemistry labs for six hours a week, so it's something that takes work and it's something you can learn from your teammates. It's difficult, but our team is so dedicated I would expect us to do it."
GH: What are you majoring in?
KC: "I'm a general bio major, with the intention of applying to physical therapy grad school."
GH: You talked about your career being a building process, but was there ever one turning point where you thought the times you're running now might be possible?
KC: "I actually think that turning point came last track season. It was at Oregon, I don't quite remember the race. I think I ran 4:29, just off the (1,500-meter) Regional qualifier, and at that point I went from thinking I'd just run and be happy with it, to feeling like I wanted to accomplish something, and now I want to go for a Regional qualifier. At that point, the idea of Nationals was completely off my radar, but I've built off everything since then. Being able to go as an alternate to nationals for cross country has definitely opened my eyes to going to NCAA Indoors. It just feels like it's part of the process."
GH: Have you had to reassess your goals at all now that you've lowered your times so much? Are you expecting to score at Pac-10's and make NCAA Outdoors now?
KC: "I would definitely hope to score at Pac-10's, I think that's definitely attainable. I've kind of had a burst of success for myself, and I don't want to take any of that for granted. I would hope to go to Nationals outdoors as well. After cross country, Metcalf and I laid out all my goals for times and races, and I have met them and surpassed them, so yes I need to take some time and evaluate what I really am able to do."