By: John Raffel
Kaylie Rhynard following in her brother's footsteps
Kaylie Rhynard, a sophomore runner at Shepherd, admits her brother's success in cross country has influenced her own passion for the sport.
That's saying something, considering Rhynard's brother is Caleb Rhynard, the 2010 Division 3 champion who clocked a 15:26.9 in the title race.
“I played softball in middle school,” Rhynard recalls. “My brother ran cross country, and I decided I wanted to try it.”
Obviously, her brother more than just runs cross country. Now at Michigan State, Caleb Rhynard is a master of the sport.
“He's pretty fast,” Kaylie smiled, adding that she would run with her brother “only once in awhile.”
Rhynard, as a freshman last season, had a personal record of 18:47.
“I was pretty happy with it,” she said.
Rhynard ran with her team at the 2010 state finals, where she recorded her 18:47 that led the Shepherd attack.
“I was happy about being all-state,” Rhynard said. “I was aiming for top 10, so I was pretty happy.”
“She has improved a ton from last year in several different ways,” said Shepherd coach Carey Hammel. “To be that much faster at the same time of the year shows that she has had a great year of running under her belt now, and all of that hard work should continue to pay off.”
It was a busy off-season for Rhynard.
“I ran all summer,” she said. "I did track and softball in the spring. I tried to step it up and get better.”
During track season, Rhynard qualified for the state finals in distance events but had to play softball the same weekend.
“Softball is my favorite right now,” she said. “I've done it my whole life, but then running popped up.”
Rhynard's goal for this season is to get to 18 flat or lower.
“It's started off better than it did last year,” she said.
Early in the season at the Bath Invitational, Rhynard had a season's best of 18:57.
She indicated that her third mile is probably her strength.
“My first mile hasn't been that fast,” she said. “Hopefully, I'll get it up somewhat.”
Rhynard acknowledged that the amazing accomplishments of her brother have been motivation for her, especially with the amount of time she puts into the sport.
“Kaylie's main two strengths as a runner are her work ethic and her leadership,” Hammel said. “She works extremely hard and makes everyone around her work hard as well, so as a teammate you couldn't ask for anyone better.
“She ran with some girls from our team all summer, and those girls are going to see huge improvements throughout the course of the season. Specifically in running for her as an individual she is just a good all around runner and she has great endurance and decent speed as well."
Meanwhile, the season prospects excited Rhynard and her teammates.
“This is the best team we've had in awhile,” she said.
“I think the sky is the limit for Kaylie in terms of this season and her running career,” Hammel said. “If she can continue to work hard and stay injury-free this season, she should see a significant improvement to her overall career-best time of 18:47 and hopefully have a good chance at running 18:30 or quite a bit lower.”