Athlete of the week: Kelly Edwards, Elk River, track: Spirit and speed

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

Kelly Edwards is our first AOW ever to list beets as her favorite food. Beets? “Oh, yes, beet salad is so good. And goat cheese,” she smiles. No, she’s not a vegetarian (“I love grilled chicken, too”) but does avoid pop.

Sensible nutrition habits are just one part of the Elk River senior’s dedication to track and field, and to personal well-being, that’s made her an integral part of a strong program. Edwards is a relay runner and long- and triple-jumper and co-captain for two years, on teams that have won conference, true-team section and regular section championships in 2010 and 2011 with a good chance to three-peat in all of them.

Kelly Edwards is a relay sprinter, long- and triple-jumper, and captain in a strong Elk track program. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

“The kids like her and respect her. She has been our emotional leader the past three years, even before she was a captain,” said coach Russ Gnan. “She has been a consistent varsity three-event performer for four years.”

Edwards’ highlights include a state sixth-place medal in the 4-by-100 last year, and her 17-foot long jump that placed third at true-team state and helped the team earn sixth place. Her senior year had a good start as she won long jump (16-7) and took third in the triple (33-4) at an eight-team Cambridge meet April 5.

The 5-foot-8, 135-pound athlete’s main thrills are just wearing the red-and-black and being called upon lead.

“I’m really honored to be captain of such an amazing team,” said Edwards. “I am so incredibly proud of the girls and just being around them makes every day so much better. As captain, I try my best to keep the girls motivated, especially during our really hard workouts, and make sure they are still having fun and to feel like part of the team.”

As a sophomore, Edwards contributed mainly in relays, placing second in 400 and 800 relays at conference, first in the 400 at true-team section and second at true-team state.

Her strong junior season was capped by the sixth-place at state with Logan Daulton, Alana Embury and Dani Detloff after setting a school record of 48.93 at section. They took third in conference and second  in true-team section and state. Her 800R was second at true-team section. In long jump, she took fifth in conference and sixth in true-team section. About her 17-0 jump (she’s consistently in the 16s), she said: “It really helps if I do my 4-by-100 just before I jump, because them I am really jacked up for it.”

She has high aspirations for this spring: “I would love to see our team make it back to True Team State and hold the conference and section titles. My individual goals are to make it to state in both long- and triple-jump as well as the 4-by-100 relay.”

Lettering since eighth grade, her other career-bests are  34-11 in the triple and 13.3 in the 100 dash.
Edwards also played tennis, mostly on JV although she lettered last fall on a state third-place team when she saw some varsity doubles action. “I wanted one sport just for fun,” said Edwards, who found that tennis got under her skin more than she anticipated, especially the mental challenges. She took up Nordic ski as a senior to have another activity while keeping fit. Strictly JV, she found skiing a nice athletic and social experience. “It’s a really a peaceful sport, out there with the kids in the woods, and anything with snow is fun.”

Track and field is her realm, though. “Other than the hard workouts, track is a super fun sport. You meet so many different people,” said Edwards, adding that “the coed aspect” of track makes it so much more relaxing.

A doctor’s daughter and 4.0 student, she plans to major in biology at the U of M and possibly go into medicine herself.


Kelly Edwards

Personal file – Age: 17 … Family: Parents, Beth and Dave; brother, Conner, 20 … Sports: track, tennis, Nordic ski … Other activities: National Honor Society, Spanish Club, Link, homecoming royalty … Academics: 4.0 GPA (currently 9th in her class) … College plans: U of M College of Biology

Favorite stuff – Class: anatomy and physiology, biology …. TV shows: “How I Met Your Morther,” “Friends,” “The Mentalist” …. Movie: “Tommyboy”  ….  Music: Coldplay …. Reading: Ernest Hemingway, Jane Austen, Alexandre Dumas … … Drink: Vitamin Water … Teams: Twins, Gopher football & hockey …  Athlete: Joe Mauer … Kickbacks: reading, wake skiing, tubing …. Wants to visit: Ireland (again).