The thrill of winning a State Championship is something most athletes dream of and work toward their entire lives.
Vandebilt Catholic distance runner Brynn Kelso has now experienced that feeling three times in her career.
And she’s still only in the eighth grade.
The Terriers’ runner enjoyed unquestionably one of the best 2018-19 athletic seasons of anyone locally, solidifying herself as one of the top runners in the state in both track and field and cross country.
In cross country, Kelso was part of a Terriers team that won the Class 4A State Championship. She had a big hand in that title, placing as the State Runner-up in the race.
In track, Kelso carried her momentum forward, winning the Class 4A State Championship in the 1,600 meter run and the 4x800-meter relay (teamed with Carolina Lindsay, Amelia Viator and Ella Chestnut) while also placing third in the 800-meter run.
Kelso said her 8th grade season was magical — one which she said she never expected to be so prosperous. She said she’s grateful to her teammates, coaches, family and friends for pushing her along the way and allowing her to be so successful.
“It feels great to know that all my hard work this season has paid off,” Kelso said. “I didn’t expect this, so it gives me a lot of confidence knowing what I’m capable of doing going into the future.”
Kelso’s championship season didn’t exactly come out of left field. She’s been a high-level runner for most of her young life — though she said she got into the sport more because she thought it was fun.
Kelso said she started the sport as a small child — learning from her dad, Matt Kelso, a local youth soccer coach who is also an avid runner in his spare time.
Kelso said her first experience on a team setting came in sixth grade when she joined the St. Francis cross country team.
The younger Kelso said in her childhood, she had no inclination that she could be a successful, competitive runner — even though she’d earn high marks in races against people her own age.
As a seventh grader, she won the Middle School State Championship for St. Francis — a race that somewhat started her on the surge of momentum that she carried into this season.
“I started to realize that running was something that I could be good at at the beginning of the year,” Kelso said. “But before then, I just did it because it was something that I enjoyed to do.”
But even with the decorated middle school career, Kelso said she still didn’t know how high school would go — though she said she owes a lot of her successes to her coaches and teammates.
Kelso said from her first day on campus, she was welcomed with open arms and encouraged by her teammates that she could succeed at the highest levels.
That early nudge is what she believes allowed her to have such a strong cross country season last fall — the top finisher for a loaded Terriers team that easily won the Class 4A State Championship.
Vandebilt almost repeated the trick in track and field, but finished fourth, winning the majority of the meets they competed in throughout the year.
At the state meet, conditions were not altogether favorable with delays caused by a weather system which brought heavy rains and winds to the Baton Rouge area.
“It was great to be part of this team because we’re always helping and motivating one another to get better,” Kelso said.
But with four full seasons of eligibility left to go, Kelso said she’s already looking toward the future and trying to win more championships for both herself and her team.
Kelso said she’s going to spend the summer working on all aspects of her running, adding that she’s looking forward to getting better in all phases.
“I want to improve my form and efficiency as I work on preparing for cross country season in the fall,” Kelso said.
When asked to give goals for the future, the standout said that she has a bunch and they’re all team oriented.
She said she wants to help her team win — simply put.
Kelso said individual titles are fun, but the best part about them are that they help her team win, which she said is the ultimate goal as she goes into the future.
“My goals are to continue to improve and hopefully come out successful in future cross country and track seasons,” Kelso said. “By doing that, I can help my team win more championships.”