(Cedarville, Ohio) Kayla Ovokaitys came to Cornerstone to run Cross Country and Track & Field. Almost immediately the coaching staff identified her as a candidate for the race walk. Just two meets into her career she broke the freshman record and qualified for the NAIA National Championships at the Cedarville Collegiate Invitational.
The 2012 graduate of Cedar Springs high school placed ninth in the 3000 meter race walk with a time of 16:42.06, bettering the freshman record of 17:01.13 set by Monica Lawrence in 2011. One week earlier Ovokaitys walked 18:17.15 at the University of Findlay. "Kayla misunderstood the judges at Findlay," said CU walks coach, Nate Van Holten. "She got three warnings early in the race and she thought they were giving her violation marks and three of those mean disqualification." Ovokaitys spent the rest of the race waiting to be pulled off the track.
At Cedarville, now fully aware of how the event is judged, she maintained a much faster pace, staying close to teammate Briana Griffiths and CU alumnus and two-time All-American, Katie Smith. The trio finished 7-8-9 with Griffiths lowering her best time to 16:32.54 and Smith at 16:37.53.
"Looking at what the other women in our program have done, for her to put up those times in her second race says a lot," said Van Holten.
The Golden Eagles now have three women qualified for the NAIA Championships in March.