Careers in high school cross country don’t come much more successful.
Washington senior Mikayla Reed concluded hers at the MSHSAA state championship races in Jefferson City back in November, where she finished third individually and led her team to a fifth-place score.
Reed is preparing for her senior track season with the Lady Jays this spring.
It was Reed’s fourth time making the podium at the state meet and her second-highest finish in the race. The year before, she was the individual state champion. She finished fifth in 2015 and 20th in 2014.
In her senior season, Reed won both the Gateway Athletic Conference Central and Class 4 District 2 individual championships, as well as place first in her sectional race. The Lady Jays finished first in both the conference and the district. They dominated the conference race with five runners finishing in the top six.
In total, Reed achieved all-conference and all-district honors in all four of her seasons, three times winning the conference’s individual title and twice finishing first in her district. Three times she placed in the top 5 individually in the state.
“Cross country has taught me so much,” Reed said. “You really learn a lot of life lessons and it has helped me to become a better person in all aspects of my life.”
Three times in her career, Reed led her entire team to the state competition — in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Their best finish, third, came in 2016. They ran sixth in 2015.
She and senior teammate Morgan Holdmeyer each ran in the state competition all four years. Three times, she was joined by Claire Ayers and Anna Sullentrup, and twice by Colleen Kuchem. A pair of freshmen ran the race alongside those five for the Lady Jays this year — McKenna Jacquin and Reed’s sister, Mia.
“My teammates mean everything to me,” Mikayla said. “You really become very close to people when you run so many miles together. We’ve been through a lot together and I don’t think that I could have made it to where I am without them.”
Reed and Sullentrup plan to continue running together next season, having each announced commitments to run collegiately at Mizzou.
Reed was coached by Mike Olszowka all four years at Washington.
“I don’t know where I would be without Coach Olszowka,” Reed said. “He has done so much for all of us from biking with us in workout to making sure we’re not stressing ourselves out too much about school. He really cares about all of us.”
During her state championship year, Reed won the individual title convincingly. She finished 25 seconds ahead of the runner-up Victoria Findley from Blue Springs South. Findley would go on to win the individual title in 2017.
In this year’s championship race, Findley got out front early with Reed second for each of the first two miles. During the third mile, eventual second-place finisher Danielle Hotalling from Blue Springs South and Raymore-Peculiar runner Miranda Dick each got past Reed into second and third place. The three were separated by just one second at the end of the third mile, coming into the home stretch.
In the final tenth of a mile, both Reed and Hottaling raced back past Dick to close out the top three.
“She fought hard and gave herself just a great finishing mile, to keep herself where she was at and held off a lot of the other field and extended away,” Olszowka said of his lead runner. “She raced great.”
In other races this season, Reed finished first in the First Capital Cross Country Invite in St. Charles, second to Findley in the Forest Park Cross Country Festival, and fifth against a huge field from across the nation at the Chile Pepper Festival in Fayetteville, Ark.
While her cross country career at Washington is closed, Reed still has one more season of running ahead — with the track and field team. Practices are already under way for the spring season and the Blue Jays’ track and field teams begin their regular season on March 20 with a meet at Pacific.
During the track and field season, Reed will look to defend her Class 4 individual championships in the 1,600-meter run and 3,200-meter run. Reed was also third in the state in the 800-meter run and a part of Washington’s fifth-place 3.200-meter relay team last season and could contend for state championship in both events again this year.