Rio Grande easy decision for Lady Hornets’ Montgomery

Published 4:05 am Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Coal Grove Lady Hornets track standout Kylie Montgomery signed a national letter-of-intent with the University of Rio Grande on Monday. Attending the signing ceremony were: from left to right, Gwen Montgomery, Ed Montgomery, Kylie, mother Angela Bailey and Phyllis Bailey. (Tim Gearhart Sports Photos/For The Ironton Tribune)

By Jim Walker

COAL GROVE — If “Let’s Make A Deal” was offering Kylie Montgomery a chance to pick her college behind Door No.1, Door No.2 and Door No.3, she wouldn’t need any time to make her selection.

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The Coal Grove Lady Hornets track star had a few options, but she decided to go with Door No.1 and University of Rio Grande first-year head coach Matt Paxton.

For Montgomery, the decision was easy. Other than an offer from Morehead State and some talks with a few schools, Rio Grande had the best deal on the table.

Coal Grove Lady Hornets’ track standout Kylie Montgomery displays her letter-of-intent with the University of Rio Grande. (Tim Gearhart Sports Photos/For The Ironton Tribune)

“With other schools, it was the same old, same old. When I talked with coach Paxton, it was a two-hour conversation and at the end of the conversation he offered me a full ride, so I accepted it at that point. It can’t get any better than that,” she said.

The offer only cemented her thoughts about attending Rio Grande. She said there were a lot of things that attracted her to the RedStorm program.

“What I like about Rio Grande is the fact that the track was literally surrounded by woods. I love that it’s so peaceful and quiet. It’s not too big but there’s still places to go. And I like that it’s out by itself in a way,” said Montgomery.

Another factor in her decision was the camaraderie among the students across the board.

“That was another thing I noticed when I went up on a visit. I met some of the athletes and they’re all very close-knit,” Montgomery said.

With her future secure next fall, Montgomery can now devote her full attention to the upcoming track season and helping the Lady Hornets try to win a fifth straight Ohio Valley Conference track championship.

“I want to win another OVC title and district title with my teammates. It’s kind of been that way since middle school. I know this season is going to be way more difficult because we have a small group compared to South Point this year. They have a freshman coming up who apparently can run a sub-60 (second) 400,” said Montgomery.

“But I’m excited to have competition this season. I usually don’t see anyone who runs a sub-minute until I get to district or regional. The goal for this season I’m hoping to run a 57 (second) for my 400. I’d have to cut down a second and a half to do that. I’d really like to place higher at the state this year. The first year I went to the finals I placed seventh. Last year, I was fifth, so it would be nice to place at least third.”

When Montgomery hit middle school she hadn’t settled into any sport, so all options were open.

“I ran cross country with (coach) Scott (Hamm), but that didn’t go too well because that’s when I found out I had asthma. That was interesting. That and flat feet doesn’t mix very well,” she said with a laugh.

“After my seventh grade year, I just fell in love with it and worked really hard going into my eighth grade season. We were hoping to get another OVC title but then COVID hit, which was a setback, but coming out my freshman year and seeing what it was like to run with seniors and being able to compete with them as a freshman was a lot of fun. I fell in love with how competitive the sport can be and see that I can go to state in a relay or I can carry myself to state and I don’t have to worry about others.”

Montgomery has reached the state track all three years of her high school career and she has advanced to the final in each of the past two seasons.

Montgomery has a lot of versatility in the events she runs that include the 400 meters and the relay races.

“What he’s looking for in the majority is in the 400 and test me out in the 800 maybe. He also wants me to try out in the relays,” said Montgomery.

“But what he kind of wants me to try out is the javelin because apparently the arm motion is similar to what you do in volleyball and I played volleyball in high school and middle school. They think I’d be decent at it.”

Adding the javelin just adds to Montgomery’s versatility in track, and it’s that versatility that keeps her enthusiasm at a high pitch.

“I also figured out that I like the 4-by-4 (relay) more than I do my open 400. It’s so exciting. I hate that it’s the last race. When I run my open 400, I’ll be dead on the ground for like a solid minute, completely out of breath when I’m done. I run the first leg of the 4-by-4, and I’ll hunch over for a couple of seconds and then Olivia Kingery takes off and I’ll run back and forth cheering everyone on. I don’t know where the energy comes from. I’m just so hyped up.”

Montgomery is hoping the 4-by-100 relay will be able to return to the state meet this season after a freak occurrence disqualified the group last season.

“We were on track at state to run a. 49 (seconds), but we disqualified. We had good handoffs up to the last leg. The handoff was clean but the last one was running and the baton hit her hamstring and it flew out of her hand. We were in first and could have placed first if we (broke our personal record),” she said.

Montgomery plans to be a business major with plans to work in real estate.