PIONEER — It was early in the 2016 outdoor track season, and as a then-eighth grade Kailey Siebeneck came up on a hurdle during her team’s 2-mile conditioning run, something instinctively told her to jump over it.
After Siebeneck cleared the hurdle with ease — and with good form — it had quite the effect on a nearby coach, who impressed with what he saw, began to make plans for her future.
“That was really good,” Siebeneck recalls being told by her coach at the time. “You’re going to be a hurdler now.”
That’s how it all began for Siebeneck — now a senior at North Central — who since then has developed into one of the area’s best hurdlers, and if not for the cancellation of the 2020 season due to the global coronavirus outbreak, she’d likely be in the midst of making one last run at regional or state competition.
After her impromptu leap at junior high practice, it didn’t take long for Siebeneck to prove her jump wasn’t some flash in the pan, as she soon went on to a highly-competitive eighth grade track season.
Her coaches describe her as a natural athlete, and by the time she was a freshman, she was already making an impact for the Eagles in dual meets and invitationals.
By her sophomore season in 2018, she was a full-on budding start. She claimed the Buckeye Border Conference title in the 300-meter hurdles, and she followed that up with a dynamite performance at the district meet, where she was able to qualify for regionals in four events — 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, 4x100 relay and 4x200 relay.
Over the years, Siebeneck also gained the respect of many of her competitors, including Edon senior Riley Bloir, someone Siebeneck formed a friendly rivalry with.
“Kailey is a good competitor,” said Bloir, who racked up 10 individual BBC track titles in three years. “Her and I were always fighting for that top spot, especially in hurdles. I can remember back to junior high, it was always me and her going back and forth in every race.”
Siebeneck ended her sophomore year with a fifth-place finish in the 300 hurdles at regionals — one spot and 1.1 seconds short of qualifying for the state meet.
She said it was tough falling a footstep away from advancing to Columbus, but at the same time, she was proud of how far she went as a sophomore, and she began to build goals for the latter half of her high school career.
As her junior year rolled around, Siebeneck continued to shine for the Eagles, and early in the 2019 season, she even began to show some promise in the long jump.
A few weeks before the postseason was set to begin, however, Siebeneck suffered a severely sprained ankle on a freak accident while performing a hurdling drill in practice.
The injury sidelined her for a few weeks, and it wasn’t until the district meet that she was able to compete in the hurdles again. With her time off from training, Siebeneck wasn’t herself at the meet, but she gutted it out and came within three inches of advancing to regionals in long jump, and anchored North Central’s 4x100 team to a fifth-place finish, which was one spot away and .07 seconds off of a regional berth.
And although Siebeneck didn’t get the chance to go out with a big senior season, North Central track coach Doug Faler said he’s proud of everything she accomplished throughout high school, and he’ll forever be grateful for the culture Siebeneck and many of her senior teammates helped build with North Central track.
“Daily in practice she gives it everything she has with each exercise or whatever objective we’re working on,” Faler said. “She just puts it all out there, and that’s what makes her so good. She’s got that natural desire to never give up and always want to win, and that’s the part that you can’t coach.”
Siebeneck, who has future plans of enlisting in the military, said of everything to be bummed about with the cancellation of her senior season, it’s the lost time with her teammates that she’ll miss the most.
“I remember when I was a freshman looking up to the seniors and not thinking I’d ever get to that point,” she said. “Now I’m finally here, and it’s just kind of weird that I’ll never run as a team with my people again.
“Take every moment you get serious,” she went on to say. “Some kids just want to show up to practice and not give it their all, but in the long run, once you give it your all, you’ll feel great about the whole experience.”