GRENORA, N.D. — Westby-Grenora senior Kinley Peterson has always had someone to chase, and it all started with her older sister Bailey.
Kinley had been the track star in the family, but only until Bailey joined the team. From there, Kinley got used to seeing Bailey win. It wasn’t long, though, before Kinley’s competitive desire pushed her past her sister.
Kinley began training during the summers, running out in the country to the bridge by her house and going into the school to lift. During the volleyball and basketball seasons, Kinley routinely would stay after practices to lift on her own.
“I wanted to beat (Bailey) and (Plentywood’s) Paige Harris, too,” Peterson said. “It really motivated me to work all summer long so I can be faster. My junior year came and I started beating my sister. After I progressed that much in my junior year I was like, ‘Ok, I can keep getting better now.'”
Even with Bailey graduated, Kinley is still chasing someone down. When Kinley stepped onto the track for the 800-meter run at the 2017 Class C state track and field meet in Laurel, she wasn’t in familiar territory. Peterson had just started running the 800 three weeks prior, leaving her little time to strategize how to run the grueling race.
While Peterson finished in second place, just .23 seconds behind Manhattan Christian’s Alex Veltkamp, she knew she could improve her time by understanding scenarios.
“I was in the middle of the pack for that last lap. I tried to pass around the corner. Our coaches, we talked about not doing that because you obviously run more trying to get out on the corner. We’ve been strategizing. I know what I’m doing now,” Peterson said.
The narrow defeat at the hands of Veltkamp provided the necessary motivation for Peterson to continue her hard work in the summer. When Peterson thinks of last year’s state track meet, she thinks of Veltkamp and the work she is putting in during the offseason. Those thoughts drove Peterson to get outside and run throughout the summer. Westby-Grenora head coach Sue Meyer sees Peterson’s work ethic as a product of her competitiveness, saying she thinks Kinley mostly just hates to lose.
“I’ve been coaching track since 1997, and you just don’t come across an athlete like that very often,” Meyer said. “You just don’t come across someone who has both the talent and the will to prepare and will to win. She will push through anything you ask her to do.”
Veltkamp might not be the only girl Peterson will have her eyes on at the State C meet. Winnett-Grass Range sophomore Zoe Delaney holds Class C’s top times in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, and is tied with Peterson for the top time in the 400-meter dash.
Peterson hasn’t been pushed in many meets this season, save for the North/East Top 10 where Peterson narrowly won the 400 over Glasgow’s Emily Kolstad, Class B’s top 400 runner. Peterson’s time of 58.82 seconds remains a season and personal best.
“That was pretty fun. I wasn’t really expecting the time I ran, but I felt pretty good about it,” Peterson said of her victory at the Top 10. “It was good weather, the perfect time to do it. The competition was great.”
Although this weekend’s State C track and field meet in Great Falls will be Peterson’s final time in a Westby-Grenora uniform, she has plans to continue running at the next level. While nothing has been set in stone, Peterson would preferably attend North Dakota State University where both of her parents went to school.
Chasing down her older sister Bailey was the start of Kinley’s illustrious track career, but it might be Class C’s best, like Veltkamp and Delaney, who will be chasing Peterson at the State C track and field meet this weekend.
State C girls notes
- Fort Benton’s girls team enters as the defending Class C state champions and is a heavy favorite to repeat. The Longhorns boast athletes all over Class C’s top 10, including three in the long jump and three in the 800. The 400-meter relay team for Fort Benton also holds the top time in the classification.
- Charlo’s Caitlin Cox, Carlee Fryberger and Tyrah Hammond could pile up the points for the Vikings. Cox and Fryberger rank in the top 10 in the 100-meter hurdles, while Fryberger and Hammond are in the top 10 in the 100 and 200. Cox and Fryberger are also some of the state’s best triple jumpers, ranking in the top five of Class C.
- Alex Veltkamp is a jack of all trades for Manhattan Christian. Veltkamp is the defending Class C champion in the 400, 800 and long jump. Currently, Veltkamp owns the top long jump in the class, while also ranking second in the 800 and third in the 400. Veltkamp also is in sight of the Class C long jump record of 17 feet, 7 1/2 inches after her leap of 17-09 1/2.
- Drummond senior Morgan Radtke also has a state record in her sights. The senior lept a Class C-best 37-06 1/2 in the triple jump at the Western C divisional meet, leaving her just inches away from Kelsey Kirkpatrick’s record of 37-10 3/4. Radtke is also in the top 10 of the long jump, and is tied for second in the high jump.