Wilson Hall standout sprinter Kayla Porter is moving on to the next level. The fastest sprinter in the SCISA ranks the last two seasons signed to run track at College of Charleston at a ceremony at the school on May 14.
Porter, the daughter of …
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Porter, the daughter of Detric and Keonna Porter, said her choice came down to Wofford and College of Charleston, and the latter proved to be the better fit both athletically and academically.
"It just became an opportunity and I'm happy to be able to run there," Porter said about the Charleston program, whose athletic facilities are at Patriot's Point in Mt. Pleasant. "They have a really amazing program, and I just had a different experience there, talking with the coaches. It just seems like home to me. The experience with the coaches were just totally different situations, and from what I heard even from the athletes that are already on the team, it just seemed like a better fit."
The school's pre-med program and proximity to the Medical University of South Carolina were key factors in her decision.
"Kayla is driven and competitive, and she has a tremendous work ethic," her father said. "If she wants to do something and makes up her mind to do it, she's going to do it. It's really education-driven for Kayla, because she wants to be a pediatrician. Since she was a little girl, she's always wanted to be a pediatrician, so her decision was made around what school's going to be the best at making her dream come true, and that's being a doctor."
Her parents agreed that Kayla has been a self-starter since she was very young, perhaps owing to her status as the older sibling, almost two years older than her brother Kaleb.
"We're both the oldest of our siblings, and I think you just kind of take that initiative and you're self-motivated. I think it's just part of being the oldest," said Keonna Porter, who was a standout sprinter and now coaches the Baron speedsters. "She's always wanted to compete at the next level, either in track or in basketball, and the opportunity presented itself with track. I ran track for 10 years, both school track and Junior Olympics. I kind of pushed her. I wouldn't say it was her first choice, but once she got into it, she really started to like the sport a lot."
Kayla said growing up with a mother that had been a sprinter opened her eyes to the possibilities of pursuing the sport.
"She didn't pressure me to run, but just seeing all of her awards and how she ran in the Junior Olympics, and I was like 'dang, I really want to run too,'" Porter said. "So I tried to follow in her footsteps, and then she came onto the coaching staff when I started running and she's been with me ever since. It's been fun and challenging at times, because she's my mom and she can be a lot harder on me than the others. But it's been a fun experience and I've had a great time with her."
Porter, who has run track at Wilson Hall since eighth grade, had to come back from a knee injury in her sophomore season and did so emphatically.
"I did struggle a little bit coming back, just getting back into shape," she said. "I couldn't even do the long jump because they said I'd have to wear a brace and it just wouldn't be good for my knee. I had to work really hard and even go to therapy during the track season. Throughout the season, I had some other setbacks and injuries. Overall I just had to persevere and keep on going and just get through it. The therapy definitely strengthened my legs, and I think it definitely made me a better runner."
Porter capped her senior season with the high-point award at the SCISA state meet on May 4, winning the 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter sprints and adding a third-place finish in the long jump with a mark of 16'9". Her time in the 400, 1:00.12, was good for a school record. She won the 200 in 27.02 seconds and claimed the 100 in 13.07 seconds, garnering 36 of the team's 78 points in its second-place finish behind Ben Lippen.
"She works hard and does what we ask her to do," said Wilson Hall head coach Rip Ripley. "Obviously, she has a great talent, but her hard work is what gets her here. She's one of the quickest girls out of the blocks that we've ever had, and that's all due to her hard work and working with her mom, our sprinters coach, and developing that more.
"What I always tell my students is pick somewhere you want to go to college and then we'll worry about the athletic side," Ripley said. "Pick somewhere that suits you. The College of Charleston was on her list, and then I go in and research and look at the coaches and see how she can fit in. I think it's a great fit for her. I think she can go down there and contribute at a pretty good Division I program in the Colonial League, and we're excited."
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