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Going the distance

All-SCV Female Athlete Mahoney rewrote record books

Posted: July 3, 2008 1:49 a.m.
Updated: September 3, 2008 5:03 a.m.

Saugus High track star and All SCV Track & Field Female Athlete of the Year Kaylin Mahoney on Tuesday at Cougar Stadium at College of the Canyons.

 

Throw out the two fastest 3,200-meter times in CIF-Southern Section history, and Saugus High distance runner Kaylin Mahoney is your state champion last season, not a third-place finisher.

That's all right, Mahoney has plenty of time to work on that. After all, the 15-year-old was only a freshman.

At the CIF State Track and Field Championships on May 31 at Cerritos College, Jordan Hasay of Mission Prep won the 3,200 with a time of 9 minutes, 52.13 seconds.

Coming in second was senior Laurynne Chetelat of Davis (9:52.51).

Along came Mahoney, with her time of 10:25.4, just ahead of Alexandra Dunne of San Clemente (10:25.75).

"It was everything I could've dreamed of," Mahoney said. "That was everything I was working toward. I wanted to p.r., and I did by six seconds. My goal was to finish in the top five."

Mahoney also set a new freshman record in the 3,200, and she set a new personal-best time in the 1,600 (4:54).

For those performances, as well as being the No. 2 runner on a cross country team that won its second consecutive state division title and finished second at the Nike Team Nationals last fall, Mahoney was named as the California State Freshman of the Year, to be awarded later this month. She is also The Signal's Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year.

"Athletics is my life," Mahoney said. "I live for this, it's a blast. To get up at 6 a.m., going to Central Park, I think I've learned to love it. I like the longer distances. It has a lot of strategy to it."

Saugus head coach Christian Standley was also right there.

"She has exceptional natural talent," Standley said.

Saugus cross country was also honored as the ESPN 710 Sports Awards High School Team of the Year.

This cross country season, Mahoney is likely first in line to take over where Katie Dunn, a standout senior last season, left off.

"She was definitely my idol," Mahoney said of Dunn. "She's all about the team. She was the captain, she'd tell us to stop goofing off. She showed us how to run better."

At times, being a freshman worked in Mahoney's advantage. With the target on other runners' backs, she could run the way she wanted to, without the pressure of being a top-flight runner everyone aims to run down.

"That's what was so great," Mahoney said. "I could run within myself. Now that I did it, it's a little nerve-wracking. There's expectations now. I'm really hard on myself. I have this drive to push myself harder."

Part of the secret of Mahoney's sudden success came thanks to her club running coaches with the Santa Clarita Storm. The husband-and-wife coaching team of Jeff and Kathryn Nelson helped mold Mahoney into a better runner. She began running competitively when she was in sixth grade.

"That built me up," Mahoney said. "They knew the mileage they had to put on me. They knew what Paragas would put me through."

That would be Saugus cross country head coach and distance track coach Rene Paragas.

"Some days we'd run five to 10 miles, maybe more," Mahoney said. "He works us pretty hard."

As the only freshman on both the varsity cross country and track and field teams, Mahoney sometimes felt anxious. But she got over it to set new Saugus freshman records in the 800-meter run, the 1,600 and the 3,200.

"I was intimidated of how girls did at Saugus," Mahoney said. "Katie went to CIF Finals, a lot of us went to CIF prelims."

Now Mahoney has her chances of rewriting the Saugus record books.

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