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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

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Oak Harbor High School track and cross country standout Kia Frank didn't have

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much athletic success in junior high.

“I didn't have very much fun,” said Frank, now a junior, about running for the younger Rockets.

Her decision to go out for track and field this season has made Oak Harbor girls track coach John McKitrick a happy man.

“She wasn't bad, but she definitely didn't stand out in junior high,” McKitrick said. “She ran cross country her freshman and sophomore years and didn't really stand out. All of a sudden, her junior year she takes off, which is unusual for a girl. She had an awesome junior year.”

Last fall, Frank was the Sandusky Bay Conference cross country champion but she fell one place short at regionals (17th) of qualifying for the state meet in Columbus.

“A lot of times kids would quit if things aren't going so well or they aren't lettering or they aren't in the top seven in cross country,” McKitrick said. “She stuck it out and became an SBC champion.”

McKitrick said it “took a little convincing” to get Frank to finally try out for the track team this spring.

“She worked all winter in the weight room and got stronger,” the coach said. “I don't think I've seen her get beat in the two-mile yet, and she's still getting better.”

Oak Harbor girls cross country coach Gina Warnke, who is also an assistant track coach, has witnessed Frank's determination and dedication first hand.

“Her freshman and sophomore year, she didn't make first- or second-team All-SBC,” Warnke said. “To come out her junior year and win was an accomplishment. She put in the base (training) during the summer, and she's real goal-oriented. She listened and she follows through, and she is a real good kid to coach.

“When we strategize about a race, she can think about that and follow through. Whatever her splits should be, she remembers those and keeps those on track if she's behind or ahead of the game.”

Through April 21, Frank, who also competes in the 1600 and 4x400 and 4x800 relays, had yet to lose in the 3200. She ran a career-best 12:14 in a dual meet against Fremont Ross last Tuesday, knocking 19 seconds off her previous best time.

“I anticipate her breaking 12 (minutes) in the next week,” Warnke said. “She's that focused.”

Frank said going from cross-country running last fall to competing in the 1600 and 3200 has been quite an adjustment

“After the first (track) meet I learned about pacing myself better and working hard in all the speed workouts and distance workouts,” she said. “It's hard work, and I have to keep a positive mind. That (3200) does get boring and it's hard to keep out the negative thoughts. A positive mind helps. A lot of times I'll sing to myself or think about who's behind me or in front of me or what I need to be doing pace-wise.”

Last fall, Frank noticed her improvement during the cross country season, which forced her to re-evaluate her goals toward the end of the season.

“I improved a lot,” she said. “At the beginning of the year I didn't think winning SBC was possible. I made that my goal probably a couple weeks before the league meet.”

Frank has transferred that determination onto the track. Two weeks ago, at the Lakota Invitational, she beat a handful of state qualifiers in the 3200. Her best time in the 1600 this season is 5:46.

McKitrick, in his 13th season, has never had a state qualifier in the 3200 and he isn't putting it past Frank to get there this season.

“She's a kid who is going to outwork you at practice,” McKitrick said. “She's in the weight room constantly, and she is kind of a quiet leader. She leads by example. Kia is still feeling herself around this team, but she's definitely one of our hardest working kids.”

Frank has other interests besides running. A 4.0 student, she plays the French horn in the Oak Harbor concert band and trumpet in the school's jazz band. She also sings soprano in mixed and jazz choir.

Hearing her name called at the state track meet would certainly be music to Frank's ears.

“I'm hoping to make it to regionals and make it to state,” she said. “That would be kind of bittersweet, because it stinks that I didn't make it in cross country. Making it to state in track will help me with my confidence in cross country next year.”

Giving money to people along road

Do you feel compelled to give money to people holding signs along the road asking for money?
844755272 [{"id":"10","title":"No, I'm not sure they're legitimate.","votes":"27","pct":62.79,"type":"x","order":"1","resources":[]},{"id":"11","title":"No, I'm afraid they will use it for drugs.","votes":"10","pct":23.26,"type":"x","order":"2","resources":[]},{"id":"12","title":"Yes, I feel good about helping someone down on their luck.","votes":"5","pct":11.63,"type":"x","order":"3","resources":[]},{"id":"13","title":"Yes, we could all end up like that.","votes":"1","pct":2.33,"type":"x","order":"4","resources":[]}] ["#194e84","#3b6b9c","#1f242a","#37414a","#60bb22","#f2babb"] sbar 160 160 /communitypolls/vote/1-root.html?id=5 No answer selected. Please try again. Thank you for your vote. Answers Votes ...