Salute to Seniors: Mekayla Gibson

When did you first start running, and do you recall any of your childhood races?
I first started running my sophomore year of high school, never did any other sport. I did try out cross country in 7th grade but didn't think it was really my thing, but I guess I was wrong.

Was there a certain moment when you realized you'd be able to compete at such a high level?
I think it all hit me my first year, my sophomore year I started running, I started out on JV but eventually moved up to varsity. I ran at district's placing 11th and realizing, holy cow I'm going to state. Ever since then I wanted to get better and better to achieve the one goal I had in mind and that was becoming All-State.

What are some bumps in the road that you've encountered when it comes to training for different events during the season?
With not having a lot of distance runners during track season I was either running by myself or I ran with the boys, but I always had my teammates supporting me no matter how many laps I would be running.

How did COVID impact your training as you prepared for the season?
It actually helped me a lot, I still got all the workouts from my coach, so I followed the plan and trusted the process. It sucked that I couldn't train with my other teammates but I still ran everyday either by myself or with my sister biking beside me.

Where are you going to college? If you have already committed, what made you choose them?
I will be going to William Woods University! It feels like a second home to me, everyone was so nice and understanding and campus is beautiful. My new coaches and new teammates are very supportive and want me to achieve my goals I have planned for the future.

Let's discuss the college searching process. What was that like, and what schools did you look at?
I first listed out my priorities which included athletics, if it had my major, how far away it was from home and tuition. I looked into Central Methodist, Baker University, Mineral Area College, Westminster, Columbia College and UT Martin. Not gonna lie it was a very stressful process, but I narrowed it all down to William Woods and Baker University and WWU checked all the boxes. I use to joke that choosing a college was like finding the right guy.

Is there another track event you wish you were good at? What is appealing about it?
I've always wanted to try long jump and javelin. It always seemed like fun to do, but my main focus was distance so stayed training for that.

What are some hobbies and interests you have outside of running?
I love to read, I'm a book nerd and I also love to draw/paint, I like to think I'm pretty good at art. I also love to go fishing and since growing up on a farm, I love taking care of animals.

Who is your role model, and why?
I don't know if I could choose just one because I have grown up watching Laura Muir, Karissa Schweizer, Jessica Hull, Emma Coburn, Allie Ostrander, Molly Seidel, Colleen Quigley, so many hard working, determined women all trying to do something amazing and made me want to work harder to be just like them.

Everyone has a bucket list, so give us some of things on your list!
I've always wanted to visit Alaska and Greece, compete at the Olympics and run a marathon.

What is the best advice you have received?
Release the Beast and Put Your Big Rocks In First

What is your favorite pre-race snack, tradition, etc.?
Before every XC meet our team would get in a circle and pray that we all have a great race and thank God for the amazing day he provided for us. It always made me feel at ease that I know he will be watching over us and help us get across the finish line. I would always start on the right side of the box too. Oh yeah can't forget about eating pasta the night before, always made sure to eat some cheesy noodles.

If you could do a sport other than XC/Track, what sport would it be, and why?
I've always wanted to try softball, it always seemed fun to play.

Any Final Shout outs?
To Coach Candrl, thank you for teaching me so many things and I learned a lot with all the crazy stories you had us listen to before practice. To Coach Dave, I can't thank you enough for how much you've helped me, you made me believe in myself and help me achieve my goals. Also to my teammates and family for always being there on the sidelines cheering me on and taking pictures no matter how many miles I'm running.