DYNAMIC DOZEN: Lingle-Ft. Laramie’s Kaelyn Riley voted No. 2 female athlete

Kaelyn Riley competes in the triple jump at the Best in the West Track and Field Classic in April at Bearcat Stadium. Riley has been voted the No. 2 female on the Star-Herald’s Dynamic Dozen High School Athletes of the Year list. 

Lingle-Ft. Laramie’s Kaelyn Riley had a senior season that was one of consistency as the Dogger overcame injury-plagued sophomore and junior seasons to an injury-free senior season that saw her shine in volleyball, basketball, and track and field.

Riley’s senior season consisted of many highlights, including winning three golds at the Wyoming track and field championships. It was those highlights that helped Riley be voted the No. 2 female on the Star-Herald’s Dynamic Dozen Athletes of the Year list. The list ranks the top 12 high school athletes from around the region based on their performance and accomplishments in multiple sports from the past school year.

On the volleyball court, Riley helped the Lingle-Ft. Laramie to a third place finish at the Wyoming State Championships while finishing the season 25-10-1 and going 3-1 at state, falling to Saratoga in the opening round before coming back to beat Saratoga for third place in five sets. Riley finished the season with 149 digs, 84 kills, and 29 ace serves.

The basketball court was also stellar where the 5-foot-7 guard averaged 14.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 2.5 steals a game this season. Lingle-Ft. Laramie went 0-2 at the state tournament falling to Farson-Eden 53-39 and then to Kaycee 46-44.

After making two trips to state in volleyball and basketball in her senior season, Riley would cap off her final high school season in grand fashion, shining at the Wyoming State Track and Field Championships where she would win three gold medals in the 100, 200, and long jump, and then taking third in the triple jump. Riley finished her career with two personal best performances at state, winning the 100 in 12.51 seconds and the 200 in 25.82 seconds. She also captured first in the long jump at 16 feet, 7 ¾ inches, and third in the triple jump (33-4).

Riley even dazzled at the Best in the West track classic when she finished second in three events and captured the triple jump with a personal best leap of 35-8 ½.

Her success in athletics in her senior season was remarkable considering Riley bounced back from a torn ACL that she suffered during the basketball season while at Torrington High School her sophomore year and then a broken hand during her junior year of basketball at Lingle-Ft. Laramie in her first time back from the ACL injury.

Her senior season was injury-free as she dominated in athletics.

Riley will continue her athletic career at Chadron State College running with the Eagle track team.

Q: What kind of track season did you have this year?

KR: Better than all my other track seasons. It was different. I don’t know why it was different, but it just was.

Q: What was it like to get those three firsts at the Wyoming State Track Championships?

KR: Going into the state meet I kind of knew what everyone was running so I just went out there and ran. It was a good weekend. The triple jump I got third because I couldn’t get on the boards. It wasn’t I was jumping bad; it was I wasn’t hitting the boards. At state they have these 18-inch boards and my foot was not even on the back of the boards so I was losing 20 inches on every jump. I was still jumping 33s, but I just couldn’t get on the board. If I could have got just one jump on the board it would have been a different story.

Q:What were your volleyball and basketball seasons like?

KR: This year I told myself not to worry too much about anything and just have fun playing. Volleyball actually went really good. We got third at the state tournament. We lost the first game and won all the other ones to come back and get third place in five sets, so that was a cool game. In basketball it was a rollercoaster. We did really good and then really bad. We ended up getting into the regional championship and lost that by five points. At state we just weren’t playing very well.

Q:Did you do all three sports all through high school?

KR: Yes I did except for when I got hurt but I still managed in the sports; I just didn’t play.

Q: Talk about that injury and what was it like to come back and do what you did this year”

KR: It just took a lot of trusting the process and letting whatever happens, happen. It took about a year and half to get back to where I was after I tore my ACL. It was just a long process just getting through it and waiting for everything to fall into place. I tore my ACL my sophomore year in basketball. I was out my whole sophomore year and I came back for basketball my junior year.

Q:Did you just do volleyball, basketball, and track, or did you do other sports, too, in high school?

KR: I did play softball until my sophomore year when I tore my ACL and then I never really got back into it. But I played it since T-ball. We had a really good team but it fell apart with girls going to play with other teams and I never got back into it [after my injury]. I played for the Torrington Twisters.

Q: Who is the one person or persons you loved to run against this year and how competitive were your races?

KR: Probably Jordan Stoddard from Southeast. She is the only girl that has beaten me all season. She is a nice girl and we didn’t have any other girls at the track meets push us so we kind of ran together. At the beginning of the season she really kicked my butt because indoor track participants were ahead of girls that played basketball. I didn’t look at it that I was going to get my butt kicked; I looked at it if she was going to beat me at least I was going to run a good time.

Q: Did you always go to Lingle-Ft. Laramie?

KR: No, I moved to Lingle my junior year. Before that I was in Torrington.

Q: How was going from Torrington to Lingle different?

KR: Torrington was 3A but not one of the top dogs in 3A, but going from 3A to 1A sports and seeing the competition level was crazy. It was a lot different. It was like being on a team with 30 girls to just 12 girls going out for basketball.

Q: How excited are you to continue running in college?

KR: I am excited and I am scared. But you have to step outside your comfort zone. I am excited for what I am capable of dong but I am also excited.

Q: What is your advice to the younger athletes to succeed in sports like you did?

KR: Just go and play and whatever happens, happens. Don’t set limits. Go to practice and just have fun and just watch whatever happens, happen.

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