Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

By Pierre Bibbs
Sports Editor 

Smith named track coach

 

Former M-ette track standout Kaitlyn Smith stands with her uniform from NDSU. Courtesy Photo.

Though the spring sports season is in question for 2020, the Malta Mustangs and M-ettes track and field teams welcomed home a familiar face at the helm.

Prior to the current worldwide threat of the Covid-19 virus, Malta High School hired former M-ette standout Kaitlyn Smith as it's newest head coach.

"It means so much," Coach Smith said about being Malta's Track Coach. "I am so excited because Malta has a great tradition of excellence. To be back and to be able to coach is a great opportunity and I am really excited to have this opportunity."

Smith was chosen by Malta Public Schools to fill the vacancy left by former Malta Track Coach Jim Benn, who now coaches and teaches at Missoula-Loyola.

Smith applied for the position of assistant coach last May and was called for the head coach job this past January.

With Smith are assistant coaches Kalli Rummel who is the team's throw coach, Nick Oxarart who coaches sprints, and Kourtney Simonson, who was a three-sport athlete in her years at Whitewater High School.

Before school closures happened around the country, the team did start practices on Monday, March 9, and held three practices before the closing began in Mid-March.

"I think we had around 20 kids," Coach Smith said. "I gave them Thursday and Friday off because of state basketball."

Though Coach Smith understands why the country has gone into quarantine mode, she like many in our country is missing normalcy.

"I'm pretty disappointed because I was really excited for the season and I was really excited for the kids," Coach Smith said.

One of the toughest things for Smith was that students in the school's foreign exchange program were excited to compete.

"They were so excited for it and then they had to go back home," Coach Smith said.

Though the MHSA postponed the spring season, Coach Smith is hoping that athletes can compete soon and when the time is right.

"It's disappointing but if we possibly get a short season, I will take what I can get," Coach Smith said.

Smith, a native of Lewistown, was raised in Roy until her family consisting of Earl, Shonna, herself, and her younger siblings Tanner and Erica moved to Malta. Coach Smith was 10.

"My grandmother used to own Stretch's and then she passed away, so my parents bought Stretch's," Coach Smith said.

Her father Earl went back and forth to Roy with his repair shop, which fully relocated to Malta last year.

Coach Smith's first brush with track and field was in Roy, during a track and field day for younger kids.

"I don't remember much, except for sprinting and trying to beat everyone," Smith said.

Smith competed in track during middle school in Malta but almost didn't compete her freshman season.

"I was convinced to do it and I did alright and things just took off from there," Coach Smith said.

During her freshman season in high school, Smith participated in relays, jumping and javelin. She was the North/East Division's runner up in javelin with a throw of 112-10. She was a divisional champion in the long relay with Marley Manoukian, Courtney Henry, and Darby Schye and runner up with the same group in the short relay.

Initially, a runner and jumper, Smith was approached by the late Glenn Flatt, who was Malta's throw coach that year.

"He had asked me if I had ever thrown before," Coach Smith recalled, saying that she hadn't. "He asked me if I wanted to."

He called her down to the field to throw the javelin. Already having five events that season, Smith declined Coach Flatt's invitation to throw shot put, promising to pick it up her sophomore season. Sadly, Smith had missed her sophomore season due to a knee injury, but came back in 2015, taking fifth in the javelin at state and picking up shot put. In her senior season, Smith helped the M-ettes win the 2016 State B Title, winning shot put with a throw of 38-0.75, and taking second in the javelin with a throw of 136-10. Smith graduated from Malta High School in 2016 and then went to Minnesota State Mankato on a scholarship as a Business Major, posting a best of 133-10 in the javelin.

"I didn't really know what I wanted to do at that time and then I started shifting towards psychology and childcare and I am really glad that I did," Smith said.

It was during her time at Minnesota State Mankato that Smith had torn ligaments in her knee for the third time, then she started looking at transferring schools.

She considered North Dakota State University and the University of Montana and ultimately landed at NDSU.

"I talked to those coaches previously, did the visits and ended up going to North Dakota State because they had so much to show for their program," Coach Smith said. "I liked Fargo and being in that area and I wasn't ready to give that up."

She competed as a sophomore, where she threw the javelin for five meets after fully recovering from knee surgery. In her junior year, Smith competed in two meets, and unfortunately, she was injured in the very first meet, injuring her (UCL) a ligament in her elbow. She was eligible to compete this year but had graduated early, and ironically, the collegiate track is canceled this season. She graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Human Development and Family Sciences, with a minor in Psychology.

Smith moved back to Malta last December and currently works in Harlem as a Behavioral Specialist at the Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch.

 

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