There were a couple of occasions this fall when River Valley High School junior cross country runner Kayla Radcliff wasn’t sure how she would fare.
One was just after the beginning of her season and the other near its conclusion.
Radcliff, the Fahey Bank’s Female Athlete of the Month for October, overcame both anxious times to excel for the Lady Vikings team.
“At the beginning of August I pulled a groin muscle and it took a while for me to get back,” said Radcliff, the daughter of Mike and Julie Radcliff. “After my third meet, my leg got better, but I was way behind.
“I had to keep pushing myself. The first race that I felt I was myself was the MOAC (Mid Ohio Athletic Conference) race.”
Her first race of October was the Harding Invitational, one race prior to the MOAC meet. Radcliff raced eighth at Harding in 20 minutes, 9 seconds.
“We then started into what we call our championship part of the season, which includes the MOAC, district and regional meets,” said Radcliff’s coach, Aric Smith.
That’s also when Radcliff rounded into form.
She finished second in the Red Division race and broke the 20-minute mark with a time of 19:44.
Radcliff then raced eighth in the district meet in 19:33, which is her personal-best time.
“That time ranks her sixth all-time among all juniors in the history of River Valley girls cross country, and it’s also the 11th-fastest time ever at River Valley,” Smith said.
She matched that mark at the regional meet at Troy and placed 15th, qualifying for the state meet by just one position.
But during that race, Radcliff wasn’t certain she could advance to the state.
“I knew going into that meet I had a chance at state because I was ranked 19th in the state and the top 16 finishers in the regional move on to state,” Radcliff said. “But I had to change my plan throughout the race. I had to catch a lot of people.
“I didn’t think I would make it. After the two-mile mark, I started to hurt and I didn’t think I would catch people. I had to catch two people in the last 400 meters to get in, and I did it.”
Radcliff went on to place 72nd in the Division II state meet at Hebron in 20:16.9.
While recalling her 2013 season, she also thought back to when she started out in running.
“I started when I was 7 years old,” Radcliff said. “I ran with Hannah Peltier (of Pleasant) and her dad. I just wanted something to do, and I was always a little, fast kid.”
Radcliff also looked ahead to her senior season.
“Next year I want to be back at the state meet and make the podium,” she said. “My goal is to get a time of at least 19 minutes.”