Vail athlete signs national letter of intent to run cross-country and track at the University of Florida
Lindsey Kiehl transferred from Battle Mountain to Summit High School after last season
The Summit School District is not even halfway through its academic school year, but Summit High School has already had its first athletic college signing of the year.
On Wednesday, Nov. 8, Summit cross-country and track athlete Lindsey Kiehl officially signed her national letter of intent to attend the University of Florida in Gainesville as a member of the university’s cross-country and track programs.
For those who may not recognize Kiehl’s name, the senior transferred from Battle Mountain High School to Summit over the summer because of several differences of opinions in Battle Mountain’s school and team policies.
Because Kiehl still resides in Vail, she was barred by the Colorado High School Activities Association from competing in the postseason with Summit in both cross-country and track, hence why she was not reported in the results at the state championship meet on Oct. 28.
Despite not being allowed to compete in the postseason during her senior year, Kiehl has made an effort to stay positive about her situation and as a result has not only successfully made the transition to a new team and school, but has flourished in the process.
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Kiehl first began running when she was quite young, but started to really get into the sport when she reached middle school.
“I guess you could say I started running in kindergarten because we had an elementary school mileage club program,” Kiehl said. “I ran that and I was like the only girl that would do it. It kind of just stuck with me and in middle school that is when I started to take it more seriously.”
When she entered high school, she actually began to realize her potential in the sport and was soon inspired to make it a goal to run at the Division I level someday.
“I had a whole bunch of older friends that were seniors when I was freshman and they were committing to all these DI schools and were going on to be super cool,” Kiehl said. “I kind of looked up to them and decided I wanted to do that too because I love running and it’s always been an option I guess. If I kept training and worked my hardest I could definitely achieve
Since Kiehl’s freshman year of high school at Battle Mountain, to her senior cross-country season at Summit, she has steadily dropped her times and has turned into a consistent and well-rounded runner.
Kiehl sports track times of 1:01.95 in the 400-meter dash, 2:13.47 in the 800-meter run, 5:09.66 in the 1600-meter-run and 4:58.19 in the mile.
With Summit High School cross-country coaches Mike Hagen, Eva Hagen and Jay Peltier helping to tailor her training this fall, Kiehl was able to drop 38 seconds off her personal best time on a 5-kilometer cross-country course and finished within the top five at a total of four meets.
Beyond providing depth to the Summit cross-country team, Kiehl also provided much needed veteran leadership to the varsity girls cross-country team, helping lead the team to several first-place finishes at meets.
Kiehl’s recent personal bests and her track times while at Battle Mountain, ultimately drew the attention of the University of Florida’s cross-country and track teams — which has risen in success and prominence over the past few years.
Kiehl took an official visit and was instantly blown away by the coaching duo of Will and Samantha Palmer and the team.
“I really like their training methods and they have a really good sense of team there, which I definitely wanted,” Kiehl said. “I am a hot weather person so I wanted to go somewhere warm where it’s not always snowing. The team made me feel so welcome on the visit and made me feel like I was already a member of the team.”
Kiehl specializes in the middle-distance events on the track and plans to continue to focus on those events while attending school in Florida.
In many ways, Kiehl’s official commitment and athletic scholarship to University of Florida is a testament to her work ethic and perseverance of what has been a hard, last few months.
“Lindsey had a little bit of a rough year last year,” Mike Hagen said. “She could’ve just packed it in. She could’ve just given up. She could’ve said the stress isn’t worth it, but Lindsey had a dream. Lindsey had a dream of running in college and she had a dream of running at a top DI program.”
“I really like running, so I just wanted to be able to do that anywhere,” Kiehl said of her perseverance over the last few months. “Eva and Mike have made it the best it could be because they are such knowledgeable people, they are such kind people and they want to see me succeed. The team was so welcoming also. It is very similar to Florida, they made me feel so welcome and made the best out of it.”
Kiehl is most excited to be part of a program that has produced national-level teams and individual champions over the last two years. On Friday, Nov. 10 the Florida women’s cross-country team qualified for the NCAA cross-country national meet by placing second overall at the NCAA South Regional meet with Florida redshirt junior Parker Valby being crowned the region’s champion.
Valby is expected to challenge North Carolina State’s Katelyn Tuohy for the national title on Saturday, Nov. 18, in Virginia.
“It is really cool,” Kiehl said. “I always thought of Parker Valby as the top of the NCAA and an icon, but now that I am following there it is way cooler because she reached out to me. By putting myself there, I’ll one day hope to be there too.”
Kiehl will conclude her senior season at Summit by competing at the Nike Southwest Regional in Arizona on Saturday, Nov. 18, before preparing for the outdoor track season.