Injury costs Basalt’s Maley her track season, but future still bright for star
BHS senior will run, study next fall at Princeton
Not all dream careers have dream endings.
But for Basalt High School senior Katelyn Maley, she’s smart enough to understand there are many more chapters ahead in her life’s story.
“I feel happy with what I was able to accomplish in these four years. I can’t imagine it any other way. Although I had big plans for this track season, in a way I don’t feel like I really missed out because I know I had successful seasons,” she said. “I’m not done yet. I’m going to keep going. I want to keep raising the bar for myself. I’m so excited to be part of a team of girls who are excited to compete and have huge goals. I’m excited to be part of that type of atmosphere.”
That atmosphere will be the one she joins this coming fall when she heads to Princeton, where she will also run track and cross country for the Division I, Ivy League school. But first comes Basalt High School graduation on Saturday, where she’ll walk across the stage as one of the most decorated prep athletes the Roaring Fork Valley has seen in recent memory.
As her Longhorn tenure ends, Maley can reflect on four state championships between track and cross country, not to mention a one-off and surprising national championship in steeplechase, an event she’s only competed in a couple of times now.
All while finishing third academically in her graduating class.
“I’m going to be forever grateful for being a part of the Basalt Longhorn cross country and track and field family,” she said. “That’s what it is. It feels like all the people on this team that come out of the program, they are all amazing humans, and that’s because of the coaches and the love we have for one another.”
That support system was especially important this past spring. Back in January, while training with her Boulder-based club team, Maley hit some ice and immediately heard a “pop” from her foot. She would eventually be diagnosed with a partially torn plantar fascia, a ligament at the bottom of the foot. She would spend the next six-plus weeks in a boot and would miss the entirety of the spring track and field season.
Little did she know, her Longhorn running career had ended all the way back in October at state cross country.
“I feel like I learned a lot about my body throughout this process. Before, I would just put on my running shoes, go for a run. I never had to think about the mechanics of it,” she said. “There are so many different little pieces and parts to running, I feel like I’m just starting to scratch the surface of it.”
Making a Champion
Maley’s BHS running career came on the heels of many talented athletes, including her older sister, Megan Maley, who was co-valedictorian for the Class of 2019 before recently graduating from Scripps College in Claremont, California, where she also ran for the school.
Katelyn also ran behind Sierra Bower, who as a junior in 2019 shattered the course record en route to the Class 3A state cross country title. Bower now runs for Furman University.
A year later, when Katelyn Maley was a sophomore, she had her breakthrough moment when she won the 3A state title in cross country, even beating Bower in the race. Maley would repeat as a junior before taking second this past fall as a senior.
She also won two state championships in track: the 800-meter run as a junior and the mile as a sophomore.
“A large part of me even having that goal was my parents and Megan making me realize it was something feasible for me,” Maley said of learning she had the potential to run in college. “Pretty much everything I did from that point on was just to make that come true for myself. My sophomore season I got a lot faster, and that was because of not only training with Megan … but also just having a newfound purpose in the running world.”
Key to a lot of her success was having a partner like Ava Lane. The girls are best friends and will walk across the graduation stage almost one after the other, as has been the case most of their lives.
Not only does Maley credit her with helping push her to become the great runner she is, but Lane gives as much credit back as chasing Maley all these years turned her into an equally formidable athlete.
Lane, who will run for the University of Pittsburgh beginning this fall, was a big mental help for Maley when she was forced to sit out track season this spring because of her injury.
“Kate has played the biggest role in that,” Lane said of becoming a college runner. “She has been such a leader for me. She has been someone I’ve always looked up to. And then to have her also be my best friend, I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
There is a chance she and Maley could bump into each other at a race in college, although they’ll likely be in different events. Maley will likely stick with the longer races, while Lane sees herself focusing on the middle-distance races, like the 800 and 1,500.
But you can bet they’ll remain in close contact.
“I know we are both going to be very busy, but Ava and I have the type of friendship where even if you don’t see each other for months, you still can pick up right where you left off,” Maley said. “That’s why I value our friendship so much, and I’m so excited to see what she accomplishes at Pitt. She is so deserving of everything that she accomplished this track season, and I think she is really going to blossom over there. It seems like there is a great group of girls who are waiting for her.”
Maley said she was happy her injury happened now instead of next year at Princeton where she will be learning what it takes to be a successful student-athlete at an Ivy League institution.
If anything, it’s given her more fuel for continuing her running career.
“I feel like through this injury my love for running has been reignited in some ways. I’m more excited than ever to get back out there,” she said. “A lot of athletes do get burned out because running is such a mental sport. So in some ways, I think this injury acted as a reset — not only for my body, but for my mind, as well.”
Maley said she currently plans to study computer science, the same field her sister is going into, but is keeping an open mind.
Whatever direction life takes Maley, she is willing to give BHS a lot of the credit in molding her into the person — and runner — she has become.
“I don’t know where I’d be without Basalt,” she said. “There are so many opportunities here, and even though we are a small school, if you look forward, you’ll find those opportunities. It is what you make of it. Everyone in this valley wants to see you succeed, and that’s what is so great about it. The connections I’ve made here are ones I will forever be grateful for, and I will never forget.”
Local 14 year old writes young adult novels
Nyala Honey has done more in her 14 years on this earth than many people accomplish in decades. The 14-year-old Basalt resident has published two young adult novels, which she’ll talk about and read from at Explore Booksellers at 2 p.m. on June 8.