By Evan Mugford
NEWBURYPORT — Newburyport's Kaitlyn Wallace knows nothing of the role of the underdog.
Instead, she stands victorious time after time, a feat unbeknownst to many. It brings with it two harsh realities: the act of finally succumbing to defeat and understanding that she is indeed breakable, and the cold, hard fact that a target is on her back and everyone is gunning for her.
It is these actualities that Newburyport senior Kaitlyn Wallace not only realizes, but perseveres through.
Growing up an only child in Georgetown before moving to Newburyport, Wallace has been involved with the track and field event of shot put since she was in the seventh grade. If it wasn't for a freshman year spent competing on the basketball team, Wallace's Cape Ann League undefeated and three time title-winning streak could have very well been extended to four years. Last Saturday, Wallace cemented her dominance with a come-from-behind Division 4 state title win on her very last toss (she was in third place at the time), throwing a personal best as well as indoor record of 37 feet, 8 inches.
"To not be proud of what I've accomplished would be an insult to the rest of the league," said Wallace. "The league itself, and the bonds I've formed within it are just as important to me as any record or CAL title."
With her down-to-Earth mentality and straight-forward modesty as such, Wallace's easy manner and consistent winning can be traced to her desire to locate and improve her weaknesses.
Running the track and field program since 1981, North Adams State alum and current Newburyport coach Tim Foley can attest to how hard Wallace works.
"Kaitlyn's such a nice girl," smiled Foley. "She's a hard worker, she's compassionate for the sport and we're just so proud of her.
"She's been throwing great all year," stated Foley. "She's the best in the CAL, and now she can lay claim to all of Division 4. We knew she had it in her because we could see it coming together more and more as of late, and excelling the way she did at the states was just perfect timing."
A former basketball and field hockey competitor, Wallace's admiration for her team and coach runs deep.
"I love coach Foley," explained Wallace. "I've known him my entire high school career, he's always helped me with my form and technique. He's basically taught me everything I need to know regarding shot put.
"Boys and girls, my teammates are awesome," stated Wallace. "We're just a tight-knit group. If we're on a bus on our way to states, we're joking and laughing it up, helping one another calm our nerves beforehand. We watch and cheer for each other whenever we have the chance."
Echoing what Wallace stated earlier, her career in track and field has been highlighted by not only perfect seasons and broken records, but by friendships she's accrued via competition.
"I just really like the fact that, not just me but everyone in the sport, can be competitive and be friends at the same time," explained Wallace. "I'm friends with almost everybody who throws in the CAL, and I enjoy that.
"Nobody's mad, no one's mean, and we help each other as well," stated Wallace. "The Hamilton-Wenham girls and us, we're pretty close. We hang around together at meets, and it's just nice to see how friendships can branch out and solidify over the years."
With the Mass. All-State Meet coming up Friday at the Reggie Lewis Center and her senior year at Newburyport coming to an end, Wallace, an editor for her school newspaper for the past three years, is certainly looking towards the future.
"I'm excited for college. I've been looking at Salem State and UMass-Amherst, and I was thinking of focusing on communications," stated Wallace whose interests lie in history, literature, journalism and continuing her career in shot put.
Aside from track and field, Wallace enjoys riflery with her dad and listening to music, adding that she loves anything with guitar and drums. And when it comes to motivation, Wallace need not look far.
"My family, my friends, my coach, and my team," said Wallace. "They motivate me."
Foley knows that with Wallace's upcoming graduation, the program and team will be losing a great athlete as well as an ally.
"The kids depend on her," explained Foley. "She's been a mentor for the younger kids, and that's been a big plus for the team and the coaching staff. She's hard to beat and she'll be even harder to replace."
Undoubtedly one of the best track and field competitors in the annals of Newburyport sports, Wallace's next step is placing in the all-states and moving on from there.
"Really, I just want to settle into college and figure out what I want to do with my life."
School: Newburyport High
Sport: Track and field
Achievements: CAL champion (2006, 2007, 2008); EMass. Division 4 title (2007, 2008)
Specialties: Shot put
Personal best: 37-8
Interests: Journalism, riflery, training