KVA's Holder races to state championship win

Oct. 26, 2013 @ 12:49 AM

Kayla Holder didn’t expect to run the time she did. She was just trying to go as fast as she could.

Her best effort Friday, a mark of 18:38, was indeed a personal best as the Kerr-Vance sophomore raced to a N.C. Independent School Athletic Association Class 1-A cross country title.

“It was the most amazing feeling,” said Holder. “I couldn’t believe it.”

Addison Mabry also earned all-state honors, finishing ninth as the Spartans took third in the state as a team.

Holder’s previous personal-best time was 18:55, recorded last month in a league race. The Eastern Plains Independent Conference Runner of the Year set a goal of breaking 18:45 Friday at Hagan-Stone Park in Pleasant Garden, just outside of Greensboro.

Holder’s KVA coach, Courtney Nutter, set a goal at the beginning of the season. She wanted Holder to win a state title.

“I’ve coached her since seventh grade and known her even longer,” said Nutter. “I almost feel like my child had the accomplishment. I couldn’t be more proud.”

Holder blew by the competition, which included around 50 other runners. She beat the second-place competitor by about three minutes. Her time would have been good enough to claim a 2-A title and would have put her third in the 3-A competition.

Holder finished 11th in 2-A last season and has competed on the state level since the seventh grade.

Holder said the difference this time was successfully pacing herself.

“This is the first year I’ve really known how to do that,” said Holder.

Aubrey Thompson is the third member of the KVA girls team.

Two members short of the five needed, the Spartans weren’t able to compete as a team in the conference races, but three-person squads were permitted Friday.

“It was exciting to have an opportunity to really race,” said Nutter.

Holder — after taking this weekend off — will turn her focus to the regional Foot Locker Cross Country Championships in Charlotte where she’ll compete to advance to a national tournament.

Holder said ultimately she would like to run on the college level. Friday’s win certainly won’t hurt her chances.

“I’m hoping this helps a little bit,” she said.

Contact the writer at kholtzman@hendersondispatch.com.