Kayci Martensen doesn’t like to lose.
The Benton junior was second in her very first mile race at age eight and was determined to come back the following year and win.
This week’s Telegraph Herald Athlete of the Week dominated the Wisconsin Division 3 track and field competition last Thursday, winning repeat titles in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters, while adding a gold medal in the 800 meters as well – all on the same day. She scored 30 of her team’s 41.5 total points to put Benton / Scales Mound / Shullburg third overall.
“Kayci is an incredibly motivated athlete,” said B / SM / S track coach Paul Raley. “No one works harder, and when she sets foot on this trail, she takes no prisoners.”
When Kayci found out that the state track competition would be held one day instead of the usual two, she began running all three of her races at each regular competition to help her prepare.
“It was tiring, but it was totally worth it,” she said. “At the state, I really wanted to win the 800 because I missed winning my first year by less than a second. I put 100 percent into that run so my legs were dead afterwards, but I had to prepare to run the 3,200 so I just pushed through.
Kayci ran the 3,200 alongside her younger sister, Hanna.
“We train together all the time and I try to follow her in this race,” she said. “It’s really fun to run with her.”
With COVID canceling her second season of track and field, Kayci said she quickly learned how much track and field means to her.
“Last year was really tough for me because I saw how much I missed being able to compete,” she said. “Not having a season made me appreciate this one even more.”
Kayci continued to train almost every day and was thrilled to hear that the cross country season would go as planned at the start of her junior year.
“We were unable to compete on our normal course for the state due to COVID, but I am delighted to have the chance to return next year and break the course record.”
Kayci placed third at the state cross country competition in her freshman year and won gold in her second and junior seasons.
“He’s a beast,” Raley said. “You would never know from looking at her, but she runs with anyone. She spends a lot of time running and has a busy schedule between weight training, swimming, biking and yoga. She always finds time to volunteer for her church and work part-time at HyVee while being a good student. She’s just a wonderful person and every coach’s dream.
College offers have started to arrive and Kayci is thrilled to have the opportunity to continue her running career.
“I’m just starting to watch schools and can’t wait to be a part of programs with girls who love to run as much as I do,” she said.
Kayci will race one last race today in Milwaukee before taking a few days off. She will then begin to prepare for the cross country season.
“I love running so much,” she said. “I love to push myself to see how good I can be and I’m very competitive. I am excited for a normal senior year.