Friday Focus: Kyle Noll Helped Put Crisfield on the Map

Noll went wire-to-wire to win the 1A boys 300 meter hurdles title last spring, his third individual state title. (Photo by John Roemer)

At the time Kyle Noll joined the Crisfield High School track team in the winter of the 2017-18 year, only one Crisfield boy had finished in the top three at states since 2011. However, Noll found instant success on the track, finishing second at both indoor and outdoor states in the high jump that year. All of a sudden, Noll was helping put the school (the eleventh-smallest public high school in the state according to the MPSSAA) on the map, constantly winning regional titles and placing high at states. Noll won his first Bayside title in the spring of 2018 and then won his first two state titles the next winter as a junior.

This past season, Noll nearly placed himself in the state meet record books. He entered the indoor state meet sporting a 7.69 personal best in the 55 meter hurdles, just a tick off Aaron Hackett's 7.65 1A indoor state meet record from a few years ago in 2018. Noll inched a bit closer in the prelims (7.68) but fell just short in the final (7.71), although he still comfortably captured the fourth individual state title of his decorated career. Like everyone else in the class of 2020, his high school career carries an uncertain fate as we wait and see if there is any chance of returning to school and competition this spring. However, Noll's track career will not end even if the season does not come back, as he is committed to compete at Central Michigan University beginning next year. Now, we caught up with one of the Bayside's best to reflect on his high school track career.

MileSplit: We'll start at the beginning: what brought you to join the track team at Crisfield as a sophomore in 2018?

Kyle Noll: I always kind of wanted to run track. Both of my parents ran track in high school, so they thought I would have a natural affinity for it. I also had a few friends that convinced me to join the team, so it just progressed from there. I had also participated in track at Holly Grove in 7th grade and I really enjoyed it, and when I made the switch to Crisfield it just seemed like the best choice.

MS: Had you played other sports in high school or beforehand other than track? Were you able to carry any of the skills or lessons you had picked up from them onto the track?

KN: I had played soccer for a large part of my life before track, as well as a little bit of basketball. I definitely think some of the skills from soccer transferred such as sprinting down the sidelines trying to catch another player. I was a defender so you either caught them or they scored. Basketball also helped a lot with high jump because the takeoff is very similar to a layup. I would definitely say the other sports I played helped a tremendous amount in learning new skills, and developing old ones!

Photo by Craig Amoss

MS: Which event would you say has been easier for you to pick up - the hurdles or the high jump? Which one do you enjoy more?

KN: I think I have picked up hurdles much easier, however I think that plays apart to me enjoying it more. My friend originally got me to hurdle and I just had a natural affinity for it. High jump is still one of my favorite events, but over the last year or two hurdles have completely taken over.

MS: What's clicked for you in the hurdles over the past calendar year? You began clearing six feet in the high jump as a sophomore but it wasn't until your junior year that you really saw the times in the hurdles start to come down (sub-15, plus adding in the 300 hurdles as a junior). Was there more of a training focus on the hurdles?

KN: I think it was a mixture of getting where I wanted to be in high jump so I didn't need to focus as heavily in that event, as well as the love for hurdles beginning to grow. I think I definitely focused more on hurdles almost to the point I was doing them every single day. Trying to improve and get better in every aspect of the race. I went to a few track camps which helped me in a ton of ways. I think what clicked for me the most was after the camps I attended. I was focusing more on technique such as arms, trail leg, etc; and after really learning about all of the different techniques I just began to put it all together.

MS: How did your experience in the camps differ from your experience while training in high school? Did you enjoy the atmosphere you got training with a larger group than I assume you're used to training with at Crisfield?

KN: It was awesome, I absolutely loved it, and I would recommend everyone to do it! You get real college coaching, better athletes to train against and with, and it is just a ton of fun. It was a great atmosphere with everyone helping each other because everyone wants to succeed and do better. I learned a tremendous amount at these camps. I can a credit a lot of my hurdle form and ability to them as well. The camps were also a great opportunity to speak to coaches about the recruiting process.

MS: Just curious - which camps did you attend? Also, shifting gears to the indoor season: you just missed the 1A state meet record in the 55 hurdles at states this year. Was that record on your mind heading into the meet?

KN: I attended [a camp at] the Naval Academy my sophomore year and then my junior year I attended Shippensburg and California (PA)'s camp... [The record] definitely was, I knew I had a good chance at winning but I wanted that record more than anything. I ran a good time in the prelims with the hopes of just getting it down a little more in the finals. I ended up hitting the fourth hurdle and still managed to run a few hundredths of a second off the state record. So I think that would have been the race that I broke the record.

MS: What other goals for yourself had you set earlier this year coming into your senior season? Did they evolve at all as the season went on?

KN: I definitely had 6'6 [in the high jump] in mind, but I didn't work hard enough. My main focus was definitely in hurdles. As far as outdoor I definitely wanted under 14.6 seconds [in the 110 meter hurdles]. They definitely did evolve when I realized I was where I needed to be in High Jump.

MS: What's the most important thing you've learned during your senior year? It can be training, goal-setting, non-track, etc.

KN: I think the most important thing I've learned is to value time why you have it. More simply put, enjoy the moment, enjoy what you are doing right now because you never know when it can be taken away. Don't take your time for granted. If I would have known I might not be able to run during the last track season of my high school career I definitely would have slowed down and made the most out of my Indoor season.

MS: What is one event that you wish you could try out or focus on more? Are there any specific events you're looking forward to trying in college?

KN: I'd say long jump; it has always been an event I love to do. I have just never really taken the time to focus on it. I don't think there are any specific events; however, I am going to be a decathlete so I am really excited to try all of the new events out.

MS: What does your off-season training (summer and fall) look like now? Do you play any other sports outside of track, either for a team/club or recreationally? Is there anything you'll have to change about how your train in the off-season (summer and fall) to prepare for the decathlon?

KN: My off season is mainly just lifting and getting stronger. I did play soccer, which is a sport I have played since I was little, but the season is over now and I have no plans to continue playing. I don't really have to do anything different from what I do now. My coaches at Michigan said to just work on strength training, because it is a lot easier to get in shape than to get stronger.

MS: What's the one race or competition that you replay over and over in your mind when you need to think of something positive? What was it about that performance that sticks with you?

KN: I would have to say my 300 meter hurdles race last year at states. It sticks with me because I had gone into states wanting to win the 110 meter hurdles. I had the 300 hurdles and high jump as well, but the 110 was something I wanted to win. I ran that race and finished second by 0.02 seconds. Earlier in the day I had no-heighted in high jump. Everything had really fallen apart, and the only event I had left was the 300 hurdles. I didn't particularly like the event that much it was my first year doing it and I just didn't have much experience. It was the only chance I had left to win. So I relaxed, got my mind right and I went out and ran that event. I pushed because it was my last chance. The major part of that race that sticks with me was my push right out of the blocks. I was the first one to the first hurdle, and I was in the lead around the first turn. I went on to win that event, and it was just a lesson for me. No matter what happens you always have to give it your all, because I could have so easily said well I'm probably going to lose this too so what's the point. But I changed my mindset and won. And that really is one of my favorite moments of my high school career.

Quick Questions

Track role model(s)?

I know everybody in track [looks up to him], but Usain Bolt. He is just an incredible athlete and a fantastic guy. I also look up to Grant Holloway and Aries Merritt. They are all fantastic athletes who each have inspired me in their own ways. I also look up to one of my good friends Shawn Hill who really got me into track, and he was the guy who first taught me how to hurdle, and I can honestly say I would not be where I am today without his unselfish help and support.

Funniest teammate?

There are honestly too many to list. I have met so many awesome people over my past few years of track, and I have always had a good time with all of them.

One race to re-do?

My 110 meter hurdles from states last year, where I lost by 0.02 seconds. That race still kills me to this day. If I would have just leaned at the end I would have won.

Favorite position in soccer?

Definitely right back (defender). It was just where I always played, and defense was something I loved to do. I never really cared about scoring or any of that. But there was something special about shutting down the other teams best players.