Rutherford blazes cross country trail at Wayne
WAYNE — There's something special about being the first athlete to win a championship at your school.
Kylie Rutherford is the cross country trailblazer at Wayne High School where the senior is a two-time West Virginia Class AA, Region IV champion. She scored the breakthrough in 2012 and became a repeat champion last week in the 5K race at Cedar Lakes in Ripley, W.Va.
She'll be running Saturday in the state meet on the Cabell Midland cross country course.
Rutherford, the only cross country champ in school history, makes up the entire roster as the Pioneers are a one-girl team.
"It's an honor because it's always nice to be the first to do something," she said. "I just hope it brings more attention to our sport and more people out."
Rutherford's been involved in track since age seven. "That's what I wanted to do in college," she said.
She believed cross country would help her train for track so she gave it a try and has experienced some success.
"It started to grow on me," she said.
Unfortunately, Rutherford learned during the middle of her 2013 spring track season that she had a stress fracture in her left femur.
"I tried to run through it," she said. "It didn't work. At state, that's the worst I've felt. Honestly if I kept going, it would've gotten worse. I dropped out. I didn't want to risk my career." Rutherford qualified in the 3200, 800 and 4x400. She dropped out of the 3200 and did not run in the other two races.
That injury meant Rutherford had to wait until July to start training for her final cross country season. She amped up the training in August.
"It's exciting to know when you get injured you get to run again," she said. "You can't step right back. You have to go slow. I worked through a lot."
Rutherford's goals for 2013 were to win the regional and finish in the top 10 at the state meet. She finished eighth in the state last year.
In the regional meet Rutherford had a time of 21:10 that was five seconds better than runner-up Hailey Miller of Ravenswood. Just before the halfway mark, Rutherford took the lead and didn't give it up.
"It was my last regional and I wanted to do well," she said. "We have some pretty competitive girls in our region. I decided to go out with them, but you have to run your race. At the hill, I told myself to push it and pull away. I knew I could do it.
"Towards the end, she closed on me. I could hear her teammates cheer for her that pushed me harder. It worked."
At the state, Rutherford will see another quality field of runners that includes Grafton freshman Alicia Parsons, who won Region II (19:41) and Region III winner Kelsey Chambers from Oak Glen (19:13).
Rutherford said she knows who she's up against.
"I have to run my race," she said. "Top 10 is a goal. To win would be awesome. I know the course. It's one race and anything could happen.
"It's all or nothing."