Marana track and field standout Kilee Hagerstrand finished her prep track career last weekend in a familiar spot, the state track and field championships in Mesa. It was her fourth trek to the season-ending meet.
Hagerstrand turned heads almost immediately as a freshman, but it took her a lot longer to get out of her own head. Hagerstrand showed the physical ability right away, but it took her longer to get her emotions under control and learn to be a more balanced competitor.
“I had to gain maturity,” said Hagerstrand. “When I was a freshman I was so emotional. If something didn’t go my way I would drop my head down. Now I try to be more even keel and not let the negative affect me.”
Hagerstrand’s coaches have also noticed a change.
“We had a pretty direct talk with her after her junior year when it was really starting to frustrate her,” said girls’ track coach Camron Dozier. “You could see it was bothering her and we talked about not showing any emotion. Whatever happens is supposed to happen. She did a fantastic job of it this year. She made some big strides there.”
Hagerstrand has mentioned that she had to make sure every race was not “life or death”. This was tough to do because she admits she is obsessed with track.
“I have to accept that I did the best I could and walk away with a smile,” she said. “I have to remember that if I lose a race or have a bad jump that life goes on.”
It did not take long for her coaches to realize they had something special. Although she would have been in the mix in the sprints early on because a lack of numbers, she quickly proved she belonged.
“She came out her freshman year and she did not expect to be quite as good as she was,” said Dozier. “She thought she’d be just one of the kids, instead she was our leading sprinter.”
Hagerstrand knew in middle school she might be good at track, but figured it would take a few seasons to make her mark. Instead, she led the way for the Marana sprints and relay teams and qualified individually for state in the long jump.
While her success was a surprise to herself and her coaches, her father Mike Hagerstrand knew she would be good right away. He first noticed her speed on the softball diamond and ran track himself.
“You could see she was fast no matter what sport she was playing,” he said. “You could really see it in softball. She was good at that too.”
One thing that has separated Hagerstrand from some of her teammates is her work ethic. “It sets a tone for the team when your best athletes are your hardest workers,” Dozier said.
Her improved attitude paid dividends her senior year. She and fellow senior Sydney Madrid were named girls track captains and took it upon themselves to expand their leadership roles.
“She and Sydney ended up being captains this year,” Dozier explained. “They ran everything. The boys kind of backed up and they were the captains of the entire program.”
In her final state meet she had a quartet of top-10 finishes. Her two relay teams, the 1,600-meter relay and 400-meter relay, finished fourth and sixth. She was 10th in the 200-meter and third in the long jump, her best individual finish at the state championships.
As for the future, Hagerstrand is still trying to figure out her next move. She has some different college options, but is still trying to find the best fit both on and off the track.