Clay Battelle, Local Sports, Sports

Clay-Battelle’s McKenna Kirby entering pivotal senior year

BLACKSVILLE, W.Va. — McKenna Kirby has spent six years creating opportunities for herself on the track, but the pivotal year will likely be her senior season.

The Clay-Battelle rising senior helped capture the WVSSAC Class A Girls Shuttle Hurdle Relay Championship in 2018, and the team earned runner-up honors, shattering their previous school record. A three-time qualifier in the shuttle hurdle relay, she has also competed in the 4×100 meter relay twice and 4×200 meter relay once at the state meet during her career.

With All-State hurdlers Hailey Carreon and Addison Ammons leaving the program to continue their careers at the collegiate level, Kirby will look to fill the leadership role while continuing the team’s recent success — forging her own path to continue running beyond high school.

“She has worked hard, and hurdles isn’t something you develop overnight,” C-B head coach Ted Cline said. “Technique comes with time, and she’s put the time in. She’s been doing it since the sixth grade and she works on her form constantly.

“She didn’t get to be a state champion by luck; she wants to run track in college, and she’s the type to work to be successful no matter what she does. I’m looking for some big things out of her.”

Kirby wants to use her senior season to build on the foundation laid by the team’s success while helping mentor the next generation of Cee-Bee runners, just like Ammons and Carreon did for her. She aims to further the familial environment that she and her teammates have built, something she sees as important in promoting an environment conducive to developing confident athletes.

“I want all of us to be able to get along and everyone to be able to ask questions and help each other,” Kirby said. “We have a lot of girls we’re going to be able to work in, and we want to be able to better them all individually.

“You have to push and make them feel like they’re doing well at what they do, and show them techniques to make themselves better. We need to bring these girls up and make them confident in themselves.”

Cline noted that he has already seen her demonstrate the tendencies and mentality needed to command respect and lead a team, and believes her to be well-fitted for the job.

“She’ll get upset if someone is slacking, and she’ll set them straight real quick,” Cline said. “She’s not real shy and is adamant about people knowing what’s right and wrong. Every team needs a good leader, and she is one. I’m looking forward to her leadership this year.”

Kirby’s performance has also begun to attract attention from collegiate coaches, which was an early goal for her within the sport. She has spoken with coaches at Muskingum University (Ohio), Lynchburg College (Va.), and Alderson Broaddus University. She hopes to garner more interest in the future.

“It’s really rewarding to have people looking at you for your skills,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to compete in college, but I never thought it’d be possible until I started going to states and regionals. It feels really good to be able to compete at this level.”

“She’s someone people will want to look at. She wants to continue her career in college and it’s now a realistic goal for her,” Cline said. “A lot of kids run track for the fun of it in high school, and a lot of people just don’t like to run. She set a goal for herself to run in college, and when you set a goal and follow through with a hard work ethic like hers, you’re going to be rewarded for that.”