Athlete of Week: Watkins flying high on track, field

cftrack-watkinsjumpA more accurate term for the sport of track and field, at least in individual terms, would be track OR field. Most athletes fall into one of the two categories. The speedy sprinters generally aren’t very good at throwing a shot put, and the most powerful field athletes wouldn’t last a millisecond on the track.

And then there’s Kayla Watkins, a Carolina Forest High sophomore and a long-time member of the Myrtle Beach Track and Field Club. The Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week not only competes in both arenas, she excels – a rare attribute that is literally carrying her far in the sport early in her career.

“I started when I was 9 with the (USATF) Junior Olympics,” recalled Watkins, who has traveled around the country in the years since competing at the state, regional and national level. “My top event is the long jump, but I enjoy doing them all. Being in the Myrtle Beach Track and Field Club has helped me a lot.”

Watkins began with the long jump and high jump but quickly made the transition to the fast track in the 100 and 200 meters. She has shown rapid improvement in all of her main events, putting on a show at the Beach Run Invitational in early April at her club’s home track of Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium.

Watkins took first place in the long jump of 17 feet, 6.75 inches in the Coach O Beach Run Invitational over the weekend at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium. She also placed second in the 200 meters with a time of 25.96 seconds and the 100 meters with a time of 12.74 seconds, earning her Silver Elite Performer status.

“I was hoping to do well at home and I worked hard in practice,” Watkins said. “It was definitely one of the toughest fields I’ve faced with people from all over the world. I would have been very happy with a top 5, or even a top 10. I didn’t expect to finish in the top 3 so I was happy and surprised.”

Watkins continues to impress on the high school track, turning in top times and distances in four events for the Lady Panthers in pursuit of an upcoming region title and state tournament bid. She hopes to make her mark for her school team but also has her sights set on Junior Olympics competition over the summer.

This year’s USATF nationals will be held in California – a lofty goal Watkins has set for herself. If she continues to improve on both the track and field, look for Watkins’ young career to carry her even farther in the future.

Photo by Prep Stars Media

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