Taking her talents Down Under
Ennis’ Krysta Saunders headed for Australia to compete in track and field events
“I’ve always loved track and field and I’m just so excited to go,” said Ennis High School senior Krysta Saunders. Saunders has been selected to represent Montana on the 2018 Down Under Sports Program track and field team. She will fly to Queensland, Australia this July to compete for both individual and team honors.
Down Under Sports was founded in 1989 by George O’Scanlon who developed a love for all athletics, but especially American football. O’Scanlon’s hope was to introduce the people of his home country, New Zealand, as well as Australia to the sport and eventually created the Down Under Bowl. After 29 years, Down Under Sports Programs include football, cross country, golf, track and field, basketball and volleyball. “Down Under Sports’ goal is to continue to provide athletes who excel in their sport the opportunity to experience the culture, beauty and grandeur of the land down under all within the framework of spirited and intense competition,” as stated in a press release.
Saunders has seen success in her athletic career over the years. She was part of the Lady Mustang volleyball team that took the state title in 2017, and the second-place trophy in 2016. She has contributed to the school’s track team success with places at both the district and divisional meets for both the triple jump and the team sprint relays. She even broke the school’s triple jump record her sophomore year. “Then Jourdain (Klein) turned around and broke that record,” she laughed.
“Krysta is a super hard worker – she always practices hard and competes even harder,” said coach Wendy McKitrick. “It’s been fun to watch her mature and grow into the athlete she is today. The kids I coach hold a deep place in my heart. When they are seniors, like Krysta, I have a hard time letting them go.”
From the 200-meter dash to the sprint relays to the triple jump, Saunders has found a passion in the sport of track and field. “I always participated in the elementary track and field days and did pretty well and then I competed in junior high and through all four years of high school,” she said. “I also compete in indoor track meets in the winter and have competed in the Big Sky State Games.” Continuing her accolades, Saunders took a third place in triple jump during an indoor meet and placed first in the 200-meter dash during the Big Sky State Games. “I was shocked,” she said.
As part of the Montana team, Saunders can compete in up to five events, and said she’s still determining what to do. “I’m thinking joining the two relays, running the 200 and the triple jump.”
But in order to compete with some of the best young athletes in the world, Saunders has a to raise $5,000 before she leaves in July. “That’s with everything included,” she said. “I’ve planned to talk to businesses here in town and reach out to family and friends.” Other fundraising ideas she’s thought of include a Penny Bowl – anytime someone knocks down a bowling pin, they donate penny.
Having never been out of the country, raising the funds is going to be a big to-do, but that doesn’t seem to hold Saunders back.
“I love everything about track and field – I like that it’s both a team and individual sport,” she said. “Yes, in the end, everything adds up to the team’s points but I only have to rely on myself to do well and have to hold myself on my own back.”
*If you’re interested in supporting Krysta and her venture down under, call The Madisonian at 682-7755!