Blog 4 Friendships are born on the field of athletic strife

Cailie Logue, is a home grown girl she arguably is Kansas best female distance runner and continues to add to her resume. While in high school Cailie was a 9X Kansas state champion on the track (4x 3200m, 3x 1600m, 2x 800m) and a 4X Kansas state cross country champion.. Now at Iowa State she has earned All American honors and like the rest of us is coming to terms and learning to deal with the "new normal" that we now face.Cailie has graciously decided to help us out in this year with out a season and take a dive into the writing world. We thank Cailie from the bottom of our heart for taking the time from her training and studies to fit this into her busy schedule and do this for us.

Blog 4: "Friendships are born on the field of athletic strife"

Jesse Owens was a four-time gold medalist in the 100m, 200m, long jump, and 4x100m-relay at the 1936 Berlin Olympics where he also set three world records and was credited with "single-handedly crushing Hitler's myth of Aryan supremacy." One of his most famous quotes that I admire is:

"Friendships born on the field of athletic strife are the real gold of competition. Awards become corroded, friends gather no dust."

Owens lived this phrase. When researching him for a paper in high school, I came across the story of an unlikely friendship he formed with one of his German competitors in the long jump at the Berlin Olympics, Luz Long. If I write much more that could be a blog in itself, but if you are interested, you can read more about Owens and Long's friendship here: "Great Olympic Friendships,"

This picture was taken after the blue race at the Rim Rock Classic in Lawrence, KS. Pictured left to right is Jenny O'Bryan, me (Cailie Logue), Kaylee Bogina, and Cassidy Westhoff. I hope you have experienced the reward that Owens speaks so highly of. While in high school, I was fortunate enough to have three good friends and competitors who all lived in southeast Kansas. I met all three of these girls in high school, where we formed a friendship through racing and training together. These girls all served as my role-models as they were a year or two older than me.

We were all proud to be runners from small schools in "the middle of nowhere" Kansas, and thrived off of competing with and supporting one another. My dad and I used to say that we could add up the student body populations of each of our high schools, and call ourselves the "Southeast Kansas Team," to go and compete at a Nike Regionals team race, as we thought we could put together a pretty solid top five from just this area of the state, and the attendance of all of our schools added together was still smaller than some of the biggest schools in the Heartland Region. While this is not allowed, we considered ourselves to be on the same team in a way, when it came to competing at the Kansas state meet. We had a bit of a chip on shoulder and we wanted to show the state and the country that good runners could come from anywhere, as at the time many of the best times were posted by athletes from larger schools and other states.

We are now all approaching our senior year or fifth years of college competition, and each of these girls has gained a significant amount of memories and experiences through their careers that are worth sharing.

Where they started, where they are now.

Kaylee Bogina: Kaylee attended Northeast High School in Arma, where she won five Kansas 3A State Titles (three in the 3200m, one in the 1600m, and one in cross country). Kaylee also earned team scoring leader and team assisting leader as a member of the Viking's basketball team. Kaylee will be graduating from Adams State University in Alamosa where she studied business. While at Adams she was a two-time All-American (cross country, 10,000m). Kaylee has earned RMAC All-Conference honors in Indoor and Outdoor track seven times, including a RMAC conference title in the 5000m in outdoor track and a runner-up finish in the RMAC indoor 5000m. Kaylee has been a part of three national championship teams (two in cross country and one in indoor) and five conference championship teams while at Adams State. She will be running working on her master's degree in sports management next year.

Jenny O'Bryan: Jenny attended St. Paul High School where she won eight 1A Kansas State titles: three in the 3200m, two in the 1600m, and three in cross country. Jenny was also a two-time letter winner in high school basketball. Jenny now attends University of Tulsa in Tulsa, OK, where she is working to obtain her master's in accounting. As a Tulsa Hurricane, Jenny placed eighth at the conference meet in cross country where she was a member of an American Athletic Conference Champion team in 2019. Jenny was also a member of a national-qualifier team in cross country in 2019, which placed 25th at the NCAA DI National Championships. Jenny has earned American Outdoor Track & Field conference honors in the 5000m and 10000m.

Cassidy Westhoff: Cassidy attended Fort Scott High School, where she was the Kansas class 4A state-runner up in cross country, the 1600m, and the 3200m (Cassidy was one of the toughest competitors I ever ran against at the Kansas State Meet. We could constantly pushed each other to do our best.) She played basketball all four years of high school. While in college at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas, Cassidy has claimed multiple conference honors including a 3rd place finish in the MIAA 3000m this past season. She also finished 77th at the NCAA DII Cross Country Championships during her junior season as a member of a national-championship qualifying team. Even after an injury ended the rest of her freshman year, Westhoff has continued to learn about her own competition abilities and helped her team qualify to Nationals for the past three years. She set many personal bests during this indoor track season, and was a part of a school-record holding DMR. She is the also the indoor mile school record holder at PSU. As she enters her fifth year she is excited to see the impact of the growth she has experienced, during her final seasons. Cassidy is currently majoring in physical education with a minor in coaching and leadership.

As you near the end of your college career, what is some advice you would give to yourself in high school?

Jenny:All the clichés are true. Time does fly and you'll be off to college on your own before you know it. Enjoy the process and be in the moment. You're going to look back and remember the special camaraderie you have with some of your closest competitors. Also, enjoy your small town and gravel roads! Don't take it for granted! Life will speed up soon enough. College really is going to be some of the best years of your life. You're going to have friends that become a second family to you, but there are also going to be a lot of challenging moments. Injuries are going to happen, and they are going to test you like you have never been tested before, but if you keep your head down and keep working it's going to be worth it. Remember to enjoy the journey along the way!

Kaylee:I would tell myself to embrace the good and bad races in front of my friends and family. In college, I have had to compete without them there and that was a difficult thing to get used to. You find yourself missing hearing your name yelled when races get tough.

Cassidy:My advice to my younger self is to keep your goals high and keep striving for them. Also, that the experiences you are going to face in college are going to be some of the best ones you will experience while running. Enjoy traveling across the country to run races and the beautiful routes that you will be able to run on in college. No workout is too hard that you can't not finish or make it through.

What was your favorite in high school race?

Jenny:The Rim Rock Classic cross country race, particularly my sophomore year. It was the first "big" race I ran as a high schooler. It was such a mess because I wasn't prepared for the crowd of people; the line of cars to get to the course was so long and we didn't allow enough time. It had also been raining, which just added to the chaos. However, it ended up being one of the best races of my high school career despite the circumstances. A lot of my friends from southeast Kansas were in the race, and I look back fondly on the muddy post-race pictures. Racing is a lot of fun when you look around and realize you're running with all of your friends. It showed me that perfect conditions aren't necessary and crazy situations make for fun memories!

Kaylee:I would say my favorite race in high school was during track at the Girard Invitational where we had Jenny O'Bryan, Cassidy Westhoff, you (Cailie), and myself entered in the 1600 Meters. It was a beautiful day and we were always excited to race each other and there were many spectators there that day that came out specifically to watch that race be ran. I remember the gun going off and we all took off, and Cailie took the lead and we went through our first 400 in 68 and the 800 in 2:26. At the time I believe my PR was 5:20 or just under and for those laps we were on pace to run 4:52... I ended up holding on for second place behind Cailie and running a 5:07 which ended up being my high school PR. We were always super bad at pacing, and we would just go out as hard as we could. How young and inexperienced we were but to me, that race defined who we were as competitors. We wanted to always give honest efforts even if it wasn't the "smartest" way to race.

Cassidy:The 1600m was my favorite high school race. After my high school career, I was invited to run the mile at the Festival of Miles in St. Louis, MO., where a lot of the elite milers get invited to run. My mother and high school coach, Coach Bogina, drove 3 hours to pick me up in Manhattan, KS, then drove 6 hours to St. Louis, to run for just a little over 5 minutes, to then drive from St. Louis to home, all in the same day. My previous personal record was 5:06 for the 1600m, but at that race I ran a 5:00 1600m and a 5:02 mile. It was one of my favorite and best runs of my life up to that point.

What value and meaning do sports give to your life?

Jenny:Running means a lot to me. It has given me so many great experiences and lifelong friends. Regardless of what else is going on in life, I know that I will always go to bed at night looking forward to going for a run the next morning. I think this is even more important during the uncertain times we are experiencing right now with COVID. I was very disappointed in losing this track season, but in the end I know that I can still go for a run every day, and that's what I love about running. It gives me a reason to wake up and spend an hour or so outside every day; the memories I have made with friends and teammates are just a huge bonus!

Kaylee:Running has been a life changing experience to me. It has taken me from the small town of Arma with a population of about 1400, to Alamosa, Colorado where I have gotten to travel and compete in many states all over the country. I have met some of the greatest friends I could ever have, and I have gotten to compete for and win National Championships with people from all over the world. It makes me appreciate my small town, and to this day I continue to work hard to make the Southeast Kansas area proud.

Cassidy: I didn't start running for sport until my sophomore year of high school. Before that I always thought that people that run for fun or competition like that were crazy. I started running to get in shape for basketball, but then found out that I was better than I thought at running. Running gave me a thrill and the feeling that is out of this world. Running then became my love and my stress relief. I could never have imagined where running would have given me so many opportunities, and taken me so many places; more than any other sport has given me.

What's your favorite workout? Favorite distance to race? Favorite memory in practice?

Jenny: In high school, I loved cross country and the 3200 meter in track. I could never pick a favorite between the two. Cross country suited me well because I didn't have much leg speed, so the tougher courses that didn't run as fast helped me be competitive. My favorite memories of summer conditioning during open conditioning in Girard! Usually we were barely awake, at 6:30am in the summer when we started running, but by the end of the runs we were laughing and having a lot of fun. I'm thankful to Coach Logue and the runners there for being so welcoming and making high school training so much fun!

In college, I love the team aspect of cross country. There's nothing better than lining up on a cross country start line with teammates by your side. Luckily, in high school even though I didn't have a very big team of my own, I had friends/competitors to train with in the off season.

Kaylee:My favorite workout is K's or Mile reps!! More specifically I LOVE K's or Miles with 3 min recovery. This means the workout is going to be fast and hard. It's a grinder workout and that is what I consider my specialty.

My favorite distance to race would be the 10k. Most people can't truly appreciate 25 laps around a track but last year I got to compete in the 10k at the Division II National Championship and that's where I earned my first All-American honor. The race went out fairly slow and then after the first mile, it picked up and there was a decision that had to be made on if I went with the pace or stayed back... I took a chance and went for it and ran one of the most terrifying and exciting races of my career where I earned 5th place. In that last mile, I only focused on my assistant coach, Brian Medigovich, who was sprinting back and forth in the stands on the back side of the track. I swear he ran 100m each lap in bleachers screaming for me to hang on. Finishing that race in 5th and scoring points that helped my team to a national runner-up finish was a dream come true. My parents, brother, and his girlfriend also were there to see me compete and earn my first All-American for them. This was something I will cherish forever.

Cassidy:I didn't ever really have a favorite workout. However, I loved going to practice every day, because of the most amazing coach in the world, Tracey Bogina. Coach Bogina sought me out and tried to get me to be a part of her team the summer before my freshman year of high school. Although, I had already decided to play volleyball my freshman year. No matter what sport I participated in whether it be volleyball, basketball, or sprints on the track, she was always so proud and rooted for me in all those sports. She was always this positive ray of sunshine, and I knew that I could count on her to talk about anything that life had thrown at me. Whether it be school, home, athletics, or what my week entailed, she was always so interested in my life and what was going on in it. I started to realize that I needed a coach like that in my life and there was only one way to do that. Once I decided that volleyball wasn't for me, I decided to try cross country out that following fall; it was the best decision of my life. Being able to be coached by Coach Bogina gave me so many more opportunities and abilities in my life in high school. She also helped coach and train me to be closer to the top in rankings for running and helped me be able to take my running career to college to be a collegiate athlete.

Does being a runner from a small town in Kansas carry meaning for you?

Jenny:I'm really proud to be a runner from small town Kansas! It made for a very unique high school experience, but it shaped me into who I am today. I'm proud to have been a part of a special time for female distance running in Kansas, when the distance for cross country was moved up to 5k and there was no lack of good competition. I am still in touch with many of the girls I competed with in high school; it has been fun to follow each other's successes through college. Small towns and smaller school divisions don't get a lot of credit for having good athletes, but the best thing about running is that times and race results don't lie!

Kaylee:YES! To this day I am still best of friends with Cailie, Jenny, and Cassidy. I was the first of us to graduate so being able to watch them finish high school and go on to choosing their own paths was very exciting. I think we all have continued to keep our small towns in our hearts. My mom coached Cassidy in high school and so we always trained together in the summer. Jenny and I raced each other since 7th and 8th grade, and Cailie's mom Christie and my mom both competed for Pitt State. So you see, these connections that we had could only be made in a small town. We were competitive, yet supportive of each other in ways that you didn't see in the big city. Our small towns fueled our desire to chase our dreams.

Cassidy:Yes, it does carry meaning for me because not very many great runners come from the state of Kansas. I feel very blessed to be known as one of the great ones or to be associated with the great runners that come through the history of Kansas runners. I had no idea that I would be able to make such lifelong friends, as well as, competitors that pushed each other to do and be their best. The crazy part is we were all located in a 40-mile radius in Southeast Kansas. I would like to thank my friends Cailie Logue, Jenny O'Bryan, and Kaylee Bogina for being my toughest, yet most humble, competitors. It is an honor to be a role model to future runners to be looked up to, or to be a person that someone would try to be like. Because when I was in high school, I wanted to be just like the girls that had come before me and set a standard for what great runners can and will do. At every practice and competition, I strived for just that. Also, being able to extend my running career to the college level, in a Kansas school, has carried a lot of meaning as well. Running has truly been a blessing to my life.

Thank you to Jenny, Kaylee, and Cassidy, members of my "SEK team" for graciously sharing these memories and their experiences. Having them as role models and friends has been more rewarding than any medal I've earned during my running career.