by Michael Smith
Grain Valley 2018 graduate Kayla Wade had a big goal in mind coming into her 2021-22 season at Arkansas State.
She wanted to run the mile race in under 5 minutes.
She did just that during the indoor track and field season in the PNC Lenny Lyles Invitational in January at Louisville University. She finished 13th overall with a time of 4:57.62.
That was just one of many highlights for the former Eagle during the 2021-2022 school year in which she ran for the outdoor and indoor track and field teams and the cross-country squad.
Some of her other career accolades at Arkansas State include fifth in the 800-meter indoor run as a freshman at the Scarlet and Black Invitational; helped her indoor distance medley relay team take second at the Sun Belt Conference Championships during her sophomore and junior seasons; won the 800-meter run during her outdoor junior season at the Red Wolves Open; finishing third this spring at the outdoor 1500-meter run during the Ole Miss Classic; and earned her personal best time last fall in cross country, placing 18th in the Sun Belt Conference Championships at 18:23.2.
She came to the Red Wolves as a two-time state qualifier in cross country and a state medalist and three-time state qualifier in track.
It was an adjustment for the college senior to prepare for competition at the next level. Wade said she went from running 30 miles a week at Grain Valley to traveling 65 to 70 miles per week. She’s also experienced her coaching staff putting more of an emphasis on weight training as she lifts every Tuesday and Thursday.
“There are no days off in college,” Wade said. “You have to run every day. The workouts I did were specific to helping me improve my time in the mile. Once I got stronger, getting my time under 5 minutes wasn’t as hard.”
While the mile was an event she ran in high school, she had to take on a new challenge as she ran in the 5-kilometer race during the outdoor and indoor track seasons. During the outdoor season this past spring, she clocked her best time at the WashU Distance Carnival at 17:03.77.
“It was the most I have had to run during the track season,” Wade said. “During my first 5K, I was battling fatigue. I knew I wanted to run it in under 17 minutes. In that race, you want to find people who run around the same time as you.
“I didn’t quite get under 17 minutes, but I was close. It wasn’t the worst thing in the world.”
Because of COVID-19 causing cancellations in 2020, Wade is able to compete for one more season in all three sports during the 2022-23 school year as a senior.
In cross country, Wade said she hopes to help her team win the Sun Belt Conference championship. For the indoor and outdoor track seasons, she would like to qualify for the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field Championships in any event.
She would also like to finish the mile in 4:50 or less and run the 5,000-meter race in under 17 minutes.
“I am satisfied with how my college career has gone so far, but there is more to accomplish,” Wade said. “If you believe you can do something, you can do it. I have more potential than I gave myself credit for. I can’t wait for my senior year.”
Grain Valley graduate Kayla Wade has had a successful career at Arkansas State from 2018 to 2022 for the indoor and outdoor track and field teams and the cross country squad. Her biggest milestones were winning the 800-meter run during the Red Wolves open during the outdoor track season and finishing the 1-mile run in under 5 minutes (4:57.62) during the indoor season at the PNC Lenny Lyles Invitational. Photos courtesy: Arkansas State University