Photo by Craig Amoss
Even with two seasons left to go in his high school career at Oakdale, senior Kyle Lund already boasts one of the top resumés of any distance runner in recent Maryland history. Lund ran 4:37 as a freshman in the spring of 2017, and by the following winter had finished second in both the 800 and 1600 at the indoor state championships. He won four individual state titles on the track as a junior, sweeping the 800 and 1600 at both indoor and outdoor states. Lund had qualified for indoor nationals in the 800 (eighth place in the Emerging Elite section), finished third in the mile at Raleigh Relays and anchored Oakdale to a ninth-place finish in the distance medley relay at Penn Relays. Perhaps his biggest stage came overseas when he represented the US at Memorial Barrientos in Cuba, running a 1:53.71 personal best in the 800.
Still, Lund's resumé, while growing ever-extensive, was not complete until this past fall. A brief stumble at the 2A West regional meet was a momentary blip on an otherwise extremely consistent cross country season for Lund, who hadn't finished higher than fifth at the state meet until this year's race. Lund's victory at the 2A state meet was one of the most thrilling races of the decade, and his performance helped lead Oakdale to its first-ever cross country state title as they knocked off the four-time defending champions from Liberty. After all that, Lund still isn't done, as he has ambitious plans to qualify for some of the country's most prestigious and competitive races and lead the Oakdale boys to even greater heights. MileSplit caught up with Lund as he kicks off his final indoor season.
MileSplit: You're coming off your first individual cross country state title performance, giving you wins in each of the past three seasons. What's the next big goal to accomplish? Are there any time goals you're looking to hit either this season or in the spring? Any big races you want to qualify for?
Kyle Lund: This season I'm going to look at qualifying for the Millrose Games in the mile, and the Adidas Boston Games Dream Mile in the spring (the Brooks PR Invitational will be a long shot). Other than that I'm planning on attending both the indoor and outdoor New Balance Nationals races.
MS: Stepping back int cross country for a second; you finished second at the 2A West regional race back in October. Did that race serve as added motivation heading into states? Did you make any changes to your mindset or racing strategy heading into states after that race?
KL: Although losing at regionals was disappointing, it served as a much-needed wake-up call that I needed to brush up on my dietary and hydration habits. It for sure added motivation for states as I was searching for redemption.
MS: You guys raced the four-time defending 2A state champions from Liberty plenty of times throughout the fall leading into the state meet. Do you think that having plenty of chances to see how you stacked up against them gave you guys some mental comfort going into states, as opposed to racing a team you hadn't seen before?
KL: Yeah, I think that racing them many times gave all of our runners a chance to see how we all compared to Liberty's top runners and to see how we needed to place in order to beat them.
MS: It wasn't until this past outdoor season that you really started running the 3200. Was there a change in your training that led either you or your coaches to want to try you out in the longer distance? Did your success in the event at states (9:28, second place) give you confidence heading back into the cross country season?
KL: I didn't change anything in order to train for the 3200, it was mostly just to get some extra points for the state meet (seeing that indoor states was extremely close, those points could have been valuable). It totally gave me some confidence seeing how I ran at the longer distance while still conserving myself for later races that I had in that state meet, and how successful I was while not at 100 percent.
MS: You guys return three-quarters of a 4x800 team that won last year's 2A state title and qualified for New Balance Nationals. What plans or goals do you guys have for the event this year?
KL: We're planning on coming back even stronger, as we've all improved, and our fourth runner would've easily made the varsity squad on most other teams; he is for sure ready to put down a fast time to help us hopefully break our school record (7:50.69).
MS: Speaking of relays, the Oakdale boys got to run in the Championship of America Distance Medley Relay at last year's Penn Relays. Describe the experience of going up against some of the other top runners and programs in the country. Is that a race you guys are looking to qualify for again?
KL: That was one unique race, we had to run through an absolute downpour. We didn't do as well as we had hoped, given the conditions. I'm not sure about our situation in terms of running it again, since I'm going to try and run the open mile (which would disqualify me from the DMR).
MS: While we're on the topic of prestigious races, you traveled to Cuba last year to run the 800 at Memorial Barrientos. What were the biggest takeaways from that entire trip and race?
KL: That was quite the experience! I got to meet some of the greatest high school athletes in the country and run alongside them, as well as compete against some of the most elite high school and even some professional Central and South American talent. I did have some problems with the heat and for sure took away yet another important lesson on hydration.
MS: Did you have a role model as a younger runner (doesn't have to be a teammate)?
KL: I began running during the indoor season of my freshman year so I didn't grow up hearing about all the great runners. However, during my freshman year, the senior class for sure was one to look up to. We had a dominant team, winning the county, conference and regional meets by an incredible amount of points and coming up just short of Oxon Hill at the state meet.
That team was one that all of the underclassmen wanted to become, and I think, through their example, they paved the way for my age of Oakdale athletes to continue to resonate across the state as a powerhouse running program.
MS: What was the most important moment for you during your running career? Have there been any races (good or bad) that significantly altered your approach to the sport and/or still resonate with you?
Lund at the 2017/18 Frederick County indoor championships. (Photo by Craig Amoss)
KL: During my sophomore year there were two runners in our county who ran around ten seconds faster than I did in the 1600. It was always between them to see who would win races, and nobody else was even in question. At the indoor county race I decided that I would stick to them as long as I possibly could so that I could push myself to run a faster time than I had recently and I ended up beating both of them in the final 200 meters in an all-out race of kicks.
After that race, my entire demeanor on the track changed, and I became extremely confident in my abilities on the track. I ended up finishing my sophomore season with a 4:20 1600 and 1:56 800 - that might have never even been possible if I hadn't won that race at the indoor county meet.
MS: How is the college search going? Any programs you've narrowed it down to?
KL: I've gotten it down to three programs: the US Naval Academy, the US Air Force Academy and BYU.
MS: Which aspects of college training and racing are you most looking forward to after you graduate?
KL: I am definitely looking forward to the more "on your own" kind of training, where a lot of long runs aren't as organized and things of that sort. I am also excited to see the increased intensity and level of competition on the D1 collegiate level versus the high school level.