There’s no gentle way to put this: West Valley distance runner McCall Skay was poached by a husband-and-wife team.
Now in her third season leading the Eagles in both cross country and in the distance events in track, the junior started out with a love for soccer.
“I loved soccer, but my soccer coach’s wife was the middle school cross country coach and she talked me into trying cross country,” Skay explained. “It was a tough decision: I didn’t really want to give up soccer, but I knew that if I didn’t like cross country I could always go back. It turned out that I absolutely loved running and cross country.”
And with that, the theft was complete.
Not that Skay is complaining. When Skay runs, there are few people around to complain to – they’re pretty much all behind her.
“I love to run and I love to win,” she said. “Early on, that was a problem for me. I would go out too fast. I’ve had to learn how to pace myself and learn how to race. My freshman cross country coach even designed drills for me to help me pace myself for a race.”
The love of running extends to training. During the summer, when distance runners love to log lots of miles, Skay does two-a-days.
“I will go run with my cross country teammates in the morning,” she said. “We meet up at the school at 6, 7, 8 o’clock in the morning and get in a good training run. Then, in the evening, I go for another run and make sure I’ve done 10 miles for the day. I put in about 50 miles a week over the summer.”
Between her last race of the track season and the start of cross country training camp, Skay will have logged about 500 miles – a lot of it by herself.
“I love the camaraderie of my teammates and I love them all to death,” she said. “But for me there’s not a lot of in-race contact because I’m out in front. And I can’t wait to be with them after the race.”
Track is a slightly different story. Middle school track saw her try out a number of individual events, she said. But once she settled into cross country as her primary sport, running distance races on the track followed in short order.
This track season, however, all thoughts of being the front-runner are put aside. The Great Northern League boasts three standout distance runners in East Valley’s Brittany Aquino, Deer Park’s Moriah Duenich and Skay. In that order for both the 1600 meters and the 3200. And the hard truth is, only two runners from their district will advance to state.
So, for the next couple weeks, Skay will be a hunter and not the hunted.
“It’s going to be a real race,” she said. “Even if we went to a regional with the teams from Central Washington, it would still be the three of us fighting it out for state.”
Aquino has been a rival the past two seasons. Thanks to a fast start this year, she holds the faster times going into next week’s district meet, running 5 minutes, 21.67 seconds in the 1600 and 11:34.7 in the 3200.
“We’re friends, but at the same time we are definitely competitors,” Skay said. “We talk before a race and we hug each other and tell each other we did a good job after a race. But during the race? We’re definitely trying to beat each other.”
Duenich is the newcomer to the rivalry.
“Moriah is just a freshman but she’s really good,” Skay said. “I am really looking forward to these races. It’s just a shame only two of us will be going to state.”