Don Beeby, the West Potomac cross country coach and assistant track coach was not sure if Kelly Carmichael would be in a leadership position during his senior year. He would barely finish in the top-10 in freshmen division races, and he may have even been caught a couple times walking during a workout.
Needless to say, things changed for the recent graduate, who will attend the University of North Carolina Wilmington next fall in their honors scholar program.
"Over the past two years, Kelly has been our captain," Beeby said. "I put him in a leadership position and he has given back to the community and helped us with recruiting."
He also qualified for the indoor state meet twice and the outdoor state meet this past season. Not bad for an athlete who barely scrapped into the top-10 of his freshmen division.
"He had to build a foundation for himself," said West Potomac track coach Dan Lundin. "He’s a great leader, hard worker, and a great competitor."
Lundin said Carmichael’s strongest weekend of racing came in the district championships his junior year. Carmichael could have focused just on the mile, his favorite race, but he knew his team needed the extra points in the two-mile and the 800-meter relay. He ran sub-4:30 in the mile and came back less than two hours later to run a sub 10-minute in the two-mile.
"That was all mental," said Carmichael. "If you know you have to do it for your team, then you have to do it. In the end, it’s always about the team."
As a multi-sport athlete, it was a surprise to Carmichael’s mom, Rosy Carmichael that he ended up being most successful as a runner.
"When he was younger and played baseball, we weren’t sure if he would make it to first base off a hit into the outfield because he was so slow," Rosy Carmichael said.
Carmichael began running distance in order to get in shape for basketball, and after a season of cross country, many realized he had quite the talent in running.
It is more than just hard work though. It takes a special athlete to develop from essentially nothing into a state-qualifying miler.
"Every coach that Kelly has had said he was very coachable," Rosy Carmichael said "He’s been lucky to have great coaches and has always followed their direction."
Next fall at UNCW, Carmichael will run eight and 10-kilometer races for cross country—double the distance of high school meets. He sees the longer distance as a challenge, but feels it will give him a good base for his strongest race.
"The mile is my best race," Kelly Carmichael said. "I’ll have to stay mentally tough for those longer races, but come track season it should help me."
In college outdoor track and field, the 1500-meters replaces the mile event, creating an 18-second conversion between the two races. The future Seahawk wants to run sub four-minutes in the 1500 meters.
Carmichael leaves West Potomac as a decorated distance runner, but left the future bright through the freshmen he inspired. Soon enough, he will be the one inspired, at the next stage of his running career.