Support our mission
St. John's junior Kayla Smith won the girls' race on Saturday, Oct. 29  at the 2016 DODEA European cross country championships at Baumholder, Germany. Smith broke her own record on the course, set one year ago, with a time of 18:45.21. She has been named the girls cross country athelete of the year in Europe.

St. John's junior Kayla Smith won the girls' race on Saturday, Oct. 29 at the 2016 DODEA European cross country championships at Baumholder, Germany. Smith broke her own record on the course, set one year ago, with a time of 18:45.21. She has been named the girls cross country athelete of the year in Europe. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)

Here’s a demoralizing thought for the many DODEA-Europe girls cross country who spent the fall chasing St. John’s runner Kayla Smith: she could have been faster.

“Some of my races haven’t been faster than last year, I was a bit disappointed,” Smith said. “Overall, I think I’ve improved by a bit.”

While Smith opts for humility in discussing her achievements this season, the raw numbers are more bombastic. Smith won the 2016 DODEA-Europe girls cross country championship with an unprecedented time of 18 minutes, 45 seconds, shattering the course record of 19 minutes, 28 seconds she’d set a year earlier.

As a result, Smith is the Stars and Stripes girls cross country Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive season.

Smith didn’t exactly remember her 2015 time, but she knew her goal was for her final time to start with that elusive 18. Consider that another completed goal in a DODEA-Europe career that is positively brimming with them.

And there’s likely more to follow.

Smith expects to return to St. John’s for her senior season, in which case she’ll enter her final campaign as a prohibitive favorite to win a third straight title. Experience suggests she’ll handle that status fine - she said she “definitely” felt increased pressure after “reading all of the articles” regarding her exploits this fall, and responded by improving on her already historic times.

But first, Smith was preparing to compete in the International Schools Sports Tournament championship race and a regional qualifier for the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships, both in November.

That’s exactly how a champion of Smith’s caliber celebrates.

“Get ready to run another race,” she said.

broome.gregory@stripes.com

Twitter: @broomestripes


Stripes in 7



around the web


Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up