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By JOSH CLAYWELL email@example.com
FORT KNOX — Kiara Austin couldn’t imagine not having Courtney Edwards on the team.
Austin, a Fort Knox High School freshman, has transformed into one of the area’s best girl hurdlers, and it’s all thanks to Edwards.
“It’s been hard work and helpful. He’s worked me to death a couple of times,” said Austin, who transferred from Columbus, Miss., before her seventh-grade year.
Edwards, a junior who transferred from Wurzburg, Germany, insists the duo’s workouts aren’t that bad.
“She’s progressing very well for her age,” Edwards said. “She’s mature enough to learn the self-discipline to do things on her own after I teach her. When I first saw her I was like, ‘Man she’s good, but she’s got some things to work on.’ I decided to help her out and she’s doing great so far.”
Indeed she is.
Through Thursday’s all-comers meet on post, Austin set personal-best records in the 100-meter hurdles (17.32 seconds) and the 300 hurdles (50.79) at the LaRue County Invitational on April 11 and had a personal-best height of 4 feet, 8 inches in the high jump at last weekend’s Louisville Male Bulldog Invitational.
“I’m just blessed to have the talent I do have and that I’m able to do so well so early in the season,” Austin said.
Edwards, meanwhile, has personal records in the 110 (14.76) and 300 (39.59) hurdles, long jump (20-08.50) and triple jump (45-07).
“I’m progressing a lot better than I thought I would,” Edwards said. “I finally broke 40 (seconds in the 300s) last weekend. That’s been one of my main goals since I came over from Germany. I came here and knew I had to do better. I’m approaching my senior year, and I want to do this in college and have a career in this.”
If the duo keeps progressing at their current pace, who knows what lies ahead for them.
Fort Knox co-coach Sam Kassinger feels the duo will push each other as long as they’re together.
“I think teammates play a significant role with any athlete,” Kassinger said. “They feel they’ve got competition and peer support with each other. Like if you and I were working together at a job, they want that partner to help push them along and get the job done. They can accomplish anything they want to, I really believe that.”
The duo has already accomplished so much this season.
According to kytrackxc.com, Edwards has the top times in the state (all classes) in both hurdles events and the top distance in the long jump.
“When you’re at the top, there’s always somebody chasing you. It’s a little scary, but you’ve just got to work hard,” Edwards said.
Austin is ranked sixth in Class 1-A in the 100s and 300s, according to the April 21 state rankings.
With training from Edwards, Austin hopes to be at the top of the rankings soon.
“He’s helped me out a lot,” she said. “Last year I didn’t have that someone to be there and watch me and help me and show me things to get better.”
Kassinger said the duo will only continue to get better as the season goes along.
“They do work together like a little team. They help each other out in drills and techniques and push each other to be better in what they’re doing,” he said.
Josh Claywell can be reached at 505-1752