Salute to Seniors: Kahryn Cullenberg

Name: Kahryn Cullenberg

School: Mt. Blue High School

Most memorable race/meet:

My most memorable race would have to be Mt. Blue Relays this past fall. It's always a race that I look forward to, but this year was particularly memorable because of the "Wall of Sound" that the Lincoln Academy team started. It's tradition at their school to line both sides of the course with as many athletes as possible and make a lot of noise when athletes run through. It doesn't matter who they are, or who they run for. Everyone gets the same volume intensity through the Wall of Sound. I was honored to be a part of it, and enjoyed getting to know athletes from multiple different teams as we all joined in.

Biggest competition:
Jillian Richardson from Edward Little was my biggest competition. We were both part of the KVAC conference, and saw each other multiple times each season. I always admired Jillian's humble personality towards her performances, and am so excited that we get to be teammates next year.

Greatest Accomplishment:
My greatest accomplishment would be when I won the 3200m at the Class B states last spring. I was not expecting that outcome, but felt so fortunate to have the chance to compete in New England's. With my senior track season cancelled, I am even more grateful for this experience.

What I would change about my high school career: Overall, I was really happy with my high school career. There isn't much I would change. I guess I would have liked to have been better at actually stretching / rolling / icing on a more regular basis.

Most difficult obstacles:

I always found it most challenging to push myself during the middle of any given race. The mental battle of telling myself I knew I could go faster and trying to follow through was tough for me.

What will you miss the most:

I feel so fortunate to have been able to have my mom as my coach. We had a great coach/athlete and mother/daughter relationship, and it was so fun to come home and talk stats with her. She's my biggest inspiration and she has really insightful things to say. I will also miss the team atmosphere provided at my school. I loved our team meetings and screaming our cheer at the top of our lungs before races. I'll miss watching freshmen discover their talents and cut minutes off their time in a single season. I'll miss team dinners and bus rides too.

Advice to younger athletes:
I would tell younger athletes to never take advantage of the present moment. Appreciate it all while it's there. Also, don't spend too much time worrying about races before they actually happen. Things will work out. Worrying too much in advance drains your body and by the time race day arrives, you'll be exhausted before the gun goes off. When in doubt, smile on the starting line and in the race if you can. It will trick your body into relaxing and your body won't think you're working as hard. Some of my LPRs were set when I smiled the whole race.

Influence from coach on rest of life:

As mentioned earlier, it's been amazing having my mom as my coach. The things she teaches us about staying strong mentally are not limited to the season. They go so much further than that. The advice she gives and the stories she tells will stick with me throughout every aspect of my life. I also want to give a shoutout to my coach, BK. He's been coaching with my mom since I was a baby and has always been an inspiring figure in my life. He's great at keeping track of team stats, and I can always count on him for my 2 mile split during XC. If any of you bump into him at a future meet, just know that the way to his heart is a bag of M&M's.

Thoughts on missing senior season due to COVID-19:
I have days here and there where I get very sad about not having my final high school track season, but then I try to look on the bright side. I feel fortunate that I was able to have a strong Junior season and end on a high note. I also feel fortunate that I still have four more years of competing on a team. I feel as if it would be much harder to lose my senior season in college.

College plans:
I'll be attending Bates College over the next four years. I plan on majoring in Environmental Studies, and running XC, indoor, and outdoor track. I am super excited to meet my teammates in person. We've had several Zoom meetings over the past few months and it's been really nice to get to know them.

Thank yous:
I could never thank my coaches enough. They have put countless hours into each season to ensure that each athlete succeeds. They truly care about us, and they deserve so much respect. I also want to thank our Athletic Trainer, Heather, for always helping me out with my pesky blisters. Thank you to the Maine running community as well. There is no other community I'd rather be a part of.

Anything else to add:

I wish all of the underclassmen the best of luck as they progress through high school. Live in the moment and take things day by day because it will all fly by before you know it. When things get hard, remember why you run and how running impacts your day in a positive way. To my teammates, always remember "Kila Kitu Ni Wezekana."

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