The ‘Wayt’ for a first national title is over for Wheeling CC grad
Kenadee Wayt has been walking around the Mount Union campus like she’s on top of the world.
And, really, as it pertains to NCAA Division III sprinting, she is.
The Wheeling Central graduate enjoyed performances to remember in Birmingham last weekend at the NCAA Division III National Indoor Track and Field Championships.
Wayt not only added four more All-American finishes to her resume, but she became the Purple Raiders latest national champion when she won the 200 meter dash, turning in a blazing, personal-best time of 24.31.
“I honestly still can’t even believe it happened,” Wayt said during a phone interview. “It was just a surreal weekend.”
Along with the 200, Wayt earned All-American in the 60M dash, 400M dash and the 4×400 relay. All told, she’s now an 11-time All-American.
Because of the sheer volume of races she had to endure, especially during Friday’s qualifying rounds, Wayt admitted she was more nervous than normal.
“Knowing that I could potentially have eight races to run weighed on me (Friday),” Wayt said. “I was not in the best mindset during the prelim rounds.”
That goes a long way in explaining how Wayt, who came into the nationals as the top seed in the 200, ended up posting the sixth-best time in the qualifying round.
“Because of that, Wayt competed in the first heat and led to some nervous moments as she watched the ‘hot’ heat unfold.
“It was the longest five minutes of my life,” Wayt said of the time between her finish and the finish of the next heat. “I knew I had (ran) a strong time when I crossed the line and I thought it could hold up, but as I watched the next heat, I didn’t know and found myself mentally saying, ‘please slow down.'”
As the sprinters approached the line the anxiety climbed. Then the times flashed on the board.
“It was honestly unbelievable,” Wayt said. “And then my teammates and coaches started basically tackling me in celebration.”
While Wayt thoroughly enjoyed the support from the Mount Union delegation, she couldn’t wait to find someone in the crowd who knew not only her well, but also winning national championships for the Purple Raiders.
“The first thing I wanted to do was find my mom (Heather (O’Shea) Wayt),” Wayt said.
The two found each other just a few minutes later and to say it was an emotional meeting would be selling it short.
“As soon as we saw each other, we both broke down,” Wayt said. “We were just crying and hugging. The reality of what I accomplished really started to set in when I saw her. It was just a really cool moment.”
Obviously every parent in Birmingham to watch his or her child compete was proud, but for the Wayt’s it was compounded by the fact that Heather had won three national titles during her collegiate career.
“It was just a really cool moment to share with her,” Wayt said.
Though it reconvened later, the immediate celebration was put on hold because Wayt had to get warmed up for the 4×4, which they finished in fifth place.
Wayt was third in the 400 and fourth in the 60 before splitting a 57 leg in the 4×4.
“The 4×4 was not my best race, but I had run a good 60M (dash) and had like four hours before my next event, so that really set me up with a positive mindset for the rest of the day and really had my adrenaline going,” Wayt said. “I had the 200 in the back of my mind when I ran the 400 and ran a (personal record) by half a second.”
Since returning to Alliance last Sunday, Wayt has received more well wishes and congratulations than she can even count. She’s become a celebrity on the campus of 2,300 students.
“It seems like all of my classmates and professors are all congratulating me,” Wayt said. “I am really grateful for all of the support I’ve received.”
While she’s still basking in the title, she’s also getting back to work because in the world of collegiate track and field there’s not a lot of time to rest on one’s accomplishments.
Wayt and the rest of the Purple Raiders resumed their training to begin preparing for the outdoor season, which begins later this month.
“That’s the hardest part of indoor is going right back into it and keeping it going through outdoor,” Wayt said. “April is the hardest part of the year for me. You’re coming off indoor and then having to push a reset button and start rebuilding the volume and heavy lifting, if you will. You can get beat down in April and have to reload for conference meet and into NCAAs if you’re fortunate enough to make it. That’s always been hard for me.”
While it’s been a challenge, it’s one that Wayt’s met each and every time. She’s also been around this long enough to realize that indoor success doesn’t always carry over to outdoor.
“It’s truly two different seasons and success indoors doesn’t always correlate,” Wayt offered. “Obviously, there comes some new pressures, too. But, it’s a good pressure. I am just going to keep working hard and we’ll see where it takes us.”
Because of her impressive time to end the indoor campaign, Wayt is unsure what she’ll post outdoors. She has a few goals in mind, however.
“I am excited to see what time I am going to run,” Wayt said. “I would love to get into the 23s.”
Combining Wayt’s work ethic, determination and God-given speed, I firmly believe — with the correct weather conditions and level of competition — she will break into the 23s and thus another chapter to her continually growing story will be written.
West Virginia University had six wrestlers earn their way to Tulsa this weekend for the NCAA National Tournament. Two of those — Peyton Hall and Anthony Carman — are Ohio Valley products.
Carman, who wrestled at John Marshall, won his pigtail match, but then dropped two consecutive bouts on Thursday and was eliminated.
Hall, meanwhile, was a returning All-American. He dropped his first match of the tournament, but won his first wrestle-back match to remain alive into Friday where he was eliminated.
Multiple Ohio Valley products competing at the Division I level is really good in its own right. Having two, on one team, in the national tournament is more than impressive.
WEST VIRGINIA SPRING SPORTS
I was not a geography or meteorology major in college. However, I am pretty sure that West Virginia is a fairly northern state and it’s still cold there for a few weeks.
So, because of those two thoughts, I continue to fail to understand why the West Virginia baseball and softball season opens on March 15.
It’s absolutely ridiculous and unfair to the players, coaches and even fans.
I mean that especially for pitchers. I understand there are pitch count rules and probably no head coach — out of caution — is going to allow his or her pitchers to work too deep into games when it’s chilly, but asking kids to amp it up to compete at a high level and have their arms conditioned to throw effectively in this type of weather is simply ridiculous.
On top of the weather, the state boys basketball tournament concludes this weekend in Charleston. Since that’s a week-long event, some kids haven’t practiced much — or at all — with their spring sports team because of extended winter sports seasons. And with some of the enrollment numbers in the state, many schools need every body they can get.
Quite simply, why not push the start date back a week? I understand that week doesn’t necessarily equate to sunny and 75 degrees every day, but at least it gives an extra week of conditioning and preparation and allows the winter sports athletes a period of transition.
ST. CLAIRSVILLE Class of 1987 graduate Ron Balog has been hired as the new head football coach at Freedom High School in Western Pennsylvania. Interestingly, Freedom’s game on Sept. 29 is against Western Beaver, which is coached by Ron Busby, who is also a St. Clairsville graduate.
HARRISON CENTRAL grad Kobe Mitchell, who has played basketball for the last two seasons at the University of Akron, has entered himself into the transfer portal. Mitchell appeared in 24 games this season after redshirting in 2021-22. So, he would have three years of eligibility remaining.
VALLEY High School will not field baseball or softball teams this spring.