Smith sisters to run track at UConn
Recent Emmaus High School graduates Alanna and Kayla Smith are not only sisters, they were teammates on the track and field squad. They’ll always be sisters, but over the next four years they will continue to be teammates.
Both are heading to the University of Connecticut and can’t wait to get there.
“I will major in chemical engineering as well as continue my track career as a sprinter,” said Alanna Smith. “The ultimate reason why I chose UConn is its location. It is not too close to home, while also within driving distance. Also with my major, internships are going to be crucial, and UConn is located between two major cities - New York and Boston - where I may find the perfect opportunity.”
“The decision took a while because I was stuck having to choose between UConn and Penn State,” said Kayla Smith. “Ultimately, I realized that UConn was the ideal university for me because of both the physical and social environment of the campus. Also, considering that I intend on competing in Division I track at UConn, I believe I am better off being in the Big East Conference as opposed to the Big 10 Conference.”
Alanna and Kayla each have distinct athletic goals as Huskies.
“My biggest goal for running in college would to be an active part of their relay team,” said Alanna Smith. “This past winter I made so much more progress than I imagined during indoor track and I want college to be a continuation of that.”
“My goals are to compete at the majority of the track meets,” Kayla Smith said. “I know that I will face a lot of new challenges that I am ready to overcome. I want to push myself so that I can feel like I earned back the season that I lost this year. I personally want to be a better runner so that I can run fast times that I could only dream about in high school.”
Their high school careers, of course, ended on a sour note with their senior seasons lost. Initially, when the school and spring sports were canceled, Alanna Smith was in a state of disbelief.
“I really had high hopes for the 2020 track season,” Alanna said. “These last 10 weeks or so have given me the time to self reflect and I realize that the cancellation wasn’t all negative. I have learned that I should not take opportunities for granted and I shouldn’t assume things will stay constant because the world is always changing.”
Kayla planned to make 2020 her most successful season. To increase that likelihood, she attended two track camps over the summer and participated in several open meets and began training last fall.
“It was hard for me to believe that all my hard work and sacrifices were for nothing,” Kayla said. “However, I learned that I have to seize the moment. Nothing is guaranteed.”
Both girls were half of the relay team that previously had come within less than one second of the Emmaus record in the 4x100 meter and 4x400 meter relays. Both girls, along with teammates Breyanna Roper and Mackenzie Dries, were looking forward to breaking those records. That, of course, did not happen, but both Smiths have outstanding Emmaus track memories.
For Alanna, two that stand out would be district championships in her sophomore and junior years.
“At the time, it didn’t seem like a huge deal because the excitement overpowered my emotions,” Alanna said. “But looking back on it I see that I have done something really special and I should be proud of myself.”
Alanna Smith also learned some life lessons.
“Running track at Emmaus taught me that no matter what, I need to find balance,” she said. “I have learned to do what’s good for self improvisation, while also doing what’s best to support those around me.”
In retrospect, Kayla was most proud of taking first place in the 4x200 relay during indoor track this winter.
“At the time, I thought it marked the start of what I thought would be the best track season ever,” said Kayla. “In addition, that was the first time in my career that I’ve won a first place achievement.”
Kayla Smith also learned that accomplishing what you want isn’t always easy.
“Participating in Emmaus track and field personally taught me the value of hard work, the benefits of being a good student-athlete, and how to make friends along the way of a four-year long journey.”