BARCO - Don’t waste time talking with Kelsey Temple about being a bridesmaid.
Sure the Currituck senior finished second in the Northeastern Coastal Conference championship meet all four years of her high school cross country career.
But crossing the finish line first in the conference meet was never the No. 1 goal for Temple. It was winning the NCC team championship.
In that regard, she’s as proud as any bride. With Temple leading the way, the Lady Knights have won the last three conference titles.
“Of course, everybody wants to finish first,” the Daily Advance Girls Runner of the Year said. “But really, for me, it’s been all about the team. I’d much rather have a team honor than an individual honor because later in life when I look back, it’s the team bond that I will really remember.
“Especially this year. It was huge doing a three-peat. We’d never done that before.”
Temple, runner-up to graduated three-time Daily Advance Runner of the Year Alex Tavenier of Northeastern in her first three conference meets and second to First Flight freshman Jessica Wallace this year, said she has had just one good chance to be the individual champ.
That came in her sophomore year. But team strategy intervened. Currituck coach Lori Davis, who is also Temple’s mom, asked her daughter to hang back to pace teammates Sarah Rozier and Emily Latimer in order to help them score more team points.
“My times were about as fast as Alex’s, I think it would have come down to who wanted the race more,” she said. “But,
we had a chance to win the league championship and I ran with Sarah and Emily.
“It’s better when you can run with a teammate. It’s not as easy to give up on yourself. Your teammate will notice. In a race, there’s always a breaking point where you think you are tired or you have a cramp and you tell yourself you can’t do this. If you’re running together, you can push each other and tell each other you can do this.”
The hanging back scenario repeated itself this year as Temple ran with Latimer to try to secure key points in what everyone knew was going to be a close team race between First Flight and Currituck.
It worked. Temple and Latimer were two-three and the Lady Knights won by just two points.
“It was the same as sophomore year,” Temple said. “We worked together. We also knew we had a pack (of teammates) behind us working together.”
It’s that type of selflessness that makes Davis beam.
“Kelsey is focused, dedicated and driven,” she said. “She has worked with various members of our team for four years to develop our program.
“She has the desire to be the best she can within the group. She’s not dominated by the ‘I’ mentality. She is very aware that it takes 100 percent from the whole team to make something happen.”
Temple said she feeds off the team, and vice-versa.
“I know there’s days in practice and meets when I am not going to feel like going hard and they push me,” she said. “And there’s days they’re not going hard and I push them. I know it’s a cliche, but there really is no ‘I’ in team.”
While Temple may not have won an individual conference cross country title at Currituck, it hasn’t kept the college recruiters away.
She expects to be choosing between scholarship offers from Belmont Abbey and Wingate. At either school, Temple plans to run cross country and track and major in physical therapy or athletic training.
“College coaches don’t care where I placed in the meets, they are only concerned about my times,” she said. “And they are happy with what I am running.
“I think I was a little burned out my junior year and it showed. My times weren’t as good as they were my sophomore year. But over the summer, it kicked back in. I had overcome that personal barrier of hitting the wall and that was very satisfying for me.
“I had a better second half of the season than the first, so I was pretty happy.”
But the best part?
“Getting the three-peat,” Temple said. “That was great.”
Joining Temple on the All-Area team are Currituck teammates Emily Latimer, Leighanne Davis and Corinne Eosso, Yana Ginzburg of Northeastern and Brooke Parsons of Edenton.
Latimer, a junior, was third in the NCC and 14th in the 3A region and was a state qualifier.
Eosso, a senior, was 11th in the conference meet.
Ginzburg, a senior, was fifth at the conference meet and 20th at the 2A region meet and qualified for the state meet.
Parsons, a junior, was seventh in the NCC and 25th in the 2A region meet.
Katie Schwalen, Sarah Rozier and Courtney Clarke of Currituck were honorable mention.