Meier signs with the Razorbacks

Camdenton senior Kylie Meier wanted to take after big sister.

The senior watched her older sister Katlyn, a 2011 Vienna graduate, win state championships and go on to enjoy a track and field career at Missouri S&T. Well, mission accomplished because Meier not only has two individual state championships and a team state title under her belt, but will also be continuing her track and field career after signing with the University of Arkansas on Wednesday with coaches, friends and family in attendance.

“She is a big supporter and a big role model to me and I know she loved it and learned a lot from it,” Meier said of her older sister. “I want to do just the same, go as far as I can with it and hope to learn as much as I can from the program.

“Sports have been a huge part of my life and I’m excited that I get to follow through with that and continue on with my athletic career.”

And it is certainly no accident that she was presented with the opportunity to become a Razorback and compete in the Southeastern Conference. The results on the track speak for themselves, but long before state titles came hard work and Meier was willing to put the time in.

“Number one, she is a great competitor. Whatever she is doing, she is going to do her best and put 100 percent effort into it,” Camdenton coach John McNabb said. “She is somebody that has had great success while being a three-sport athlete and there is never any question at the end of anything she does that she gave it everything she had and that is a delight to be around.”

That hard work payed dividends immediately as Meier finished fifth in the state and earned Class 4 All-State honors as a freshman in the 300-meter hurdles. She went on to become a two-time defending state champion in that event and is currently in pursuit of a third. She also placed third in the state 100-meter hurdles a season ago, helped the 4x100 relay team capture third and is eager to help the 4x400 relay team defend its state title as well. Those efforts in 2017 helped the Lakers capture their first team state title in program history.

“She is gifted first of all, but on top of that she works like crazy. Coaches say that a lot, but she really does,” said Camdenton assistant Steve Bayless who coaches hurdlers. “On our days off you have to tell her to take a day off or she’ll be there working.”

While she has enjoyed plenty of individual achievement, Meier said part of her success is also fueled by a strong supporting cast.

“Whenever we go to the track, we know what we have to get done and we all work super hard and want it,” Meier pointed out. “Seeing that competitive drive all around you, it helps you motivate. Knowing everyone else has your back too makes it even better.”

It certainly helps when other teammates, like Camdenton junior Natalie Basham, also raise the bar and reach the pinnacle as Basham won the state title in the 100-meter hurdles last season.

“They are in a zone before each of their events and they are booked with four events in a track meet,” Bayless noted of the two champions. “They have their game face on in their warmup when they go to get ready and you don’t have to say very much to them. They go to get their job done.”

Another key to the consistent success is the attention to detail. Meier strives for perfection every time she steps up to the starting blocks because the slightest miscue can be detrimental.

“I’m sure a lot of it is mental because with track, what makes it different is that you only get one chance to do it,” she said of the sport. “In other sports you can mess up a couple of times and maybe accidentally have a bad pass or hit a foul ball, but in track everything has to be set down to a ‘T’ and perfect. If you mess up one little detail that could cost you a couple hundredths of a second and you lose your race. Preparation is what definitely makes a big difference.”

Meier is looking forward to making the most of her final season as a Laker before employing those same proven methods at Arkansas. The senior said there was plenty to like about the school in Fayetteville, Ark., about 220 miles from Camdenton where she will study and pursue a career in biomedical engineering.

“They have a super awesome program. Coach (Chris) Johnson, who will be my coach, just won the Assistant Coach of the Year,” Meier said of her new coach who was named the 2018 National Women’s Indoor Assistant Coach of the Year by the USTFCCCA. “I know he has some big plans and I’m super excited to be part of the team. It is good because it is a little bit closer to home, but not too far. I still get that amazing experience you could not find anywhere else.”

Of course, having the chance to compete in the SEC is another adventure Meier cannot wait to begin.

“The ‘Big Leagues’ is going to be awesome,” the senior said with a smile. “I’m excited to see the competition and get to run against the best of the best.”

McNabb has no doubt she’ll fit right in if her track record is any indication.

“I think it is unusual to get an opportunity to coach somebody that is a two-time defending state champion and is going to get an opportunity to go to a university that is known throughout the country for their track and field program and is a contender for a national championship every year,” the coach stated. “It really points out the effort she has put into it and what she has done to accomplish the things she has accomplished.

In the meantime, there are more state titles in Missouri to pursue. McNabb said he and his assistants have been inspired by the example Meier set forth in her work ethic and he is looking forward to working with the state champion one more time.

“As a high school coach you certainly need to enjoy it and support her in every way you can because athletes like her don’t come along every year. It may be a once in a lifetime thing,” the coach remarked. “She is the only person, up until this past year, I had that won a state championship in an individual event and there are an awful lot of coaches out there that have never had one. So, you need to be thankful for the opportunity to work with somebody who not only has the talent, but the drive to be excellent.

“She is not lucky to have me, I am lucky to have her.”

It has been a good run for Meier at Camdenton and she will cherish the memories she made as a Laker, but she does not want those good times to end with her departure.

“Being a Laker means so much to me… Obviously we made our mark on the school and I hope generations down the line can make just as big a mark, look up to us and see what we accomplished and do better than we did,” she said. “It is super humbling to know I was part of ‘Laker Nation’ and everything that goes around it and that I can say we won a state championship with a team that is so supportive and works so hard together.”

She implores others to keep dreaming because one never knows what may happen.

“Dream big,” Meier said. “We never knew we could win a state championship and we did it with five girls so the sky is the limit. Just always believe in yourself.”