LUCAS, Texas — A majority of high school athletes never get the opportunity to hoist up a championship trophy or celebrate a state title.
Kailey Littlefield knows the feeling of success all too well. And she isn’t even halfway through her high school career yet.
Now as a sophomore on the Lovejoy Leopards track and field team, Littlefield is looking for back-to-back individual state titles.
This year, Littlefield and the Lovejoy’s girls cross country team captured the 5A state championship.
But while Littlefield has found success in long distance, speed is her passion.
Last year’s 5A UIL 800-meter state champion is now on a quest of balancing her own expectations for her sophomore season and continuing to build off of last season.
“My freshman year was really great,” Littlefield told BVM. “It started out with cross country and I did All-State cross country, which was really big for me because I always thought, ‘I’m a track runner, I’m speed.’ So to get top-10 in cross country was really great. Fast forward to track season, winning state, that was my main goal all year.”
And she accomplished just that.
Littlefield grew up playing soccer, but she always fell back on running as her number one sport.
Running runs in her family.
“My mom is my coach,” Littlefield explained. “She ran in college. She’s been a coach for a while. So, I’ve grown up around running my whole life.”
Carly, Lovejoy’s cross country and track and field coach and Littlefield’s mother, ran track and cross country on scholarship at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
“We do talk track quite a bit,” Littlefield said with a big smile. “It’s a great experience. I love it so much. She’s such a great coach. Sometimes you would think, you’re just surrounded with track, but that’s what I love, that’s what I do. So I like that we get to come home and talk about what workouts we’re going to do the next day, and she gets to ask me my feedback all the time, and I think it makes our relationship really strong because we’re around each other a lot.”
The duo does set boundaries, though, to ensure that running doesn’t take over.
“Sometimes we go camping or just do family stuff and we make rules before we go,” Littlefield explained. “We’re like, ‘Ok, we’re not going to talk about track on this trip.’”
It’s all about balance, and balancing is something Littlefield has found a way to do.
In elementary school and middle school, she participated in soccer as well as continuing to run at organized events. During her middle school days, she also took part in basketball, but once her freshman year rolled around, it was all running all the time.
Before Littlefield turned 10 years old, she knew running was in her blood.
After running summer track at age nine, that’s where Littlefield said she “developed her love for running.”
Now as her spring high school season ramps up, Littlefield is looking for even more balance in her life. But this time, it’s about managing her own expectations.
“I definitely put a lot of pressure on myself,” Littlefield said. “I think it’d be really cool to win back-to-back.”
In her first indoor meet this year, she ran a strong 800-meter performance at the Texas A&M High School Indoor Classic on Jan. 8, debuting with a time of 2:12.68.
She ran a 56.73 in the 400-meter.
“That was a really good meet for me,” Littlefield said. “It’s a good season starter because we haven’t done much speed. So I know that I’ll get faster throughout the year.”
After falling behind in the 800-meter at Texas A&M, Littlefield finished strong with an impressive finishing kick to overcome a three-second deficit in the final 150 meters. She passed Boerne-Champion High School senior Anastacia Gonzales, who had led the entire race up to that point. Last May, Gonzales won the UIL state Class 5A 1600-meter run and took third behind Littlefield in the 800-meter.
During Littlefield’s run of capturing the 800-meter state title last year, she ran a 2:08.04 personal best.
The 5A state meet record was set in 2019 by Bailey Goggans of Marble Falls with a time of 2:07.39.
Littlefield’s 800-meter time as a freshman ranks her sixth in the nation, according to MileSplit.com.
The Lovejoy star is now focused on her speed as well as filling in her mom’s shoes with distance running.
“I just want to drop my time in the 400 because I think that will help me for the 800 and the mile,” she said. “I really want to get the stamina and mental part of the mile down because that’s a barrier that I faced last year. I was always mental about the mile, but I think I can overcome that this year.”
Littlefield has yet to give too much consideration to where she will take her talents at the college level but says that is one of her goals to earn a track and field scholarship.
Looking long term, Littlefield’s biggest goal is to run at the Olympic Trials and then possibly the Olympics.
“I think if I keep putting in the work, I think I can do it,” she said.
One thing’s for certain, Littlefield will always have her mother’s support and advice on how to achieve such impressive feats.
The only exception to the rule: The family camping trip.
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