By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
It’s not always easy being the golden girl of Class A hurdles.
Timberlake’s Kayla Castle will be chasing her fourth straight gold in both the 100-meter intermediate hurdles and 300-meter low hurdles at the Class A state meet today and Saturday at Midwest City Carl Albert High School.
“I haven’t gotten much sleep lately,’’ she said. “All I can think about is I don’t want to mess up. I don’t want to disappoint anybody. I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself.’’
She is both excited and nervous about doing something no Timberlake athlete has ever accomplished.
“So much could happen,’’ Castle said. “There’s a lot of pressure, but I’m excited about how it’s going to go.’’
Castle awaits the challenge of Texhoma freshman Randi Yates, who has the fastest time in Class A so far in the 300s with a 48.08. Castle’s best time has been a 48.21.
“I haven’t had anybody up there with me,’’ Castle said. “I hope it’s a good race and it gets my time faster. I remember coming up as a freshman. I know how she feels.’’
Castle was a surprise winner in both hurdles as a freshman (16.25 in 100 and 47.0 in 300s).
“If she wins, I would give her all the credit,’’ Castle said. “She would be faster than me. It would be a pretty awesome feeling for me to win. It would mean a lot to my coach (Kale Pierce) and my parents. I would have accomplished something special.’’
Whatever happens, it might be more of a relief than anything else. She plans to be a cheerleader at Northwestern Oklahoma State and not run track.
“Track has been fun, but I’m ready to move on,’’ she said. “I’m about at the breaking point. I’ve been doing track so long that I’m getting tired of it. I’m ready to move on and do something new.’’
Castle said “no matter the outcome, I’ve had a great career in track and all the sports (three straight trips to state in basketball). It’s going to end on a really good note.’’
Castle’s success has come the old-fashioned way — hard work. She has been doing the hurdles since the fourth grade. Her first coach was current Class A record holder Katie Lancaster.
“You have to have a lot of discipline,’’ Castle said. “You have to want it pretty badly. You have to want it bad enough to stay after practice and work on things to get better. It’s been worth it. I’ve done everything possible for me to win. I don’t like to lose.’’
What she liked about track was winning or losing was up to her. She took pride in her work ethic and being a role model for younger girls.
“It means a lot to me when a young girl tells me ‘I want to run the hurdles like you’ ... they see us work hard in practice. More and more girls are taking up the hurdles. I want to give them all the pointers I can.’’
One of those girls is younger sister Kelsey, who ranks No. 3 in the 300s and was third a year ago at state with a time of 50.28.
“I’m excited to see my sister doing the hurdles,’’ Castle said. “I hope she keeps the Castle tradition up.’’
Kelsey is usually up with Kayla by the first hurdle in the 300s.
“I usually talk with her while we’re running,’’ Castle said. “I tell her she’s doing fine or step it up. We try to have fun with it.’’
Pierce had Castle and some of her teammates run with the Timberlake boys until this spring.
“That helped a lot,’’ she said. “They will be killing us and I would be thinking I’m so slow ... then when we would run against girls, we would feel a lot faster. They really pushed us.’’
An older sister and brother ran the hurdles before her. Her dad, Kent, was a hurdler. Chasing Lancaster’s records have been an incentive.
“When I was younger, I just practiced and practiced and did the little things that helped,’’ Castle said. “It’s been a mixture of good coaching and having my dad pushing me.’’
She still keeps in touch with Lancaster, whose sons are doing track.
“It would be really cool if I could break her records,’’ Castle said.
She would like to be in the low 15s for the 100s and around 46 seconds for the 300s.
She prays before every race “that nobody gets hurt and everybody does good .... it’s horrible when you see someone fall in the hurdles.’’
Castle ran a leg on Timberlake’s 400-meter relay which won the gold medal the last three years at state and on the 800-meter relay, which was first last year. She’ll run on the 800 and 1,600 relays today and Saturday.
Castle plans to study radiology at NWOSU and is looking forward to being a full-time cheerleader. She loves to tumble.
“I’m not as burned out on cheerleading as I am the other sports,’’ she said. “It’s going to be fun. It’s something that I enjoy, but it’s not too stressful. I still will have to work at it.’’