Freshman Kylie Calabrese-Kenny ’22 shocked the track scene after becoming the first ‘Iolani sprinter to qualify for the Hawaii High School Athletic Association (HHSAA) Track Championships 100-meter dash. She has risen above the competition to represent the Raiders and hopes her hard work will culminate in the final deciding track meet that will take place from May 2 to May 4 on Maui. Although she is now working to improve her personal best, Calabrese-Kenny has generously offered to share how her personal experiences on the ‘Iolani Track team has led to success on the field.
Calabrese-Kenny’s road to success was not always smooth. As a seventh grader, Calabrese-Kenny regretted joining the track team and considered dropping track to focus on soccer instead. Although she dragged her feet every day to the track, she slowly realized that she was meant to run, and to feel the wind on her face, her hair whipping through the breeze, the sun on her back, and the One Team spirit reverberating from the stands.
“What made me start to like track was that the environment was really fun,” said Calabrese-Kenny. “I kind of just discovered that I like to run so that made it more enjoyable.”
At her first intermediate track meet, Calabrese-Kenny ran a time of 31.75 seconds for the 200-meter dash, compared to her personal best of 26.99 as a freshman. This was the start of a state qualifying sprinter. During her seventh grade year, she did not compete in the Intermediate Track Championship Trials. However, while gaining more experience running for the ‘Iolani intermediate team, she slowly improved her times for her races. The next year, as an eighth grader, she placed third at the Intermediate Track Championships in the 100-meter dash with a time of 13.45 seconds, just 0.41 seconds off her personal best (13.04 seconds).
Kylie Calabrese-Kenny accomplished qualifying for the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash, and the 4x100 meter relay at the HHSAA Track Championships as a freshman.
“When I found out that I had qualified [for the 100-meter dash] I was so happy, I was jumping and screaming, and I literally dropped my phone,” said Calabrese-Kenny.
Beyond being a truly gifted runner, Calabrese-Kenny stands as an inspiration to young athletes throughout campus. She has persevered through what initially seemed to be a sport that weighed her down and did not prove useful and developed it into a passion that has been shaped by hard work, determination, and long practices.
Her advice to other runners? “Always work hard and stay focused, because you aren’t going to get better unless you do” said Calabrese-Kenny.