Local Student Kya Crooke Represents USA Track and Field Team

Writer / Julie Yates
Photography Provided

Local Fishers resident, 16-year-old Kya Crooke, recently returned from the Pan American Under-20 Athletics Championships as aKya Crooke silver medalist. One of the youngest participants, she competed against a select field of athletes, many of whom have collegiate experience. Making the USA Track and Field team was a dream come true for Crooke, and the result of hours of hard work and training.

The 2023 Pan American Games for under-20 athletes were held August 4 to 6 in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. The biennial track and field competition is an opportunity for peers from across the Americas to showcase their skills. Crooke’s pathway to qualify for the elite invitational in the high jump began in Fishers.

Crooke, a junior at Heritage Christian School, also sprints and competes in hurdles and long jump. She is the first athlete to medal in four individual events, but high jump is her favorite. After participating in a sanctioned meet held at Fishers High School, Crooke qualified for a spot at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships held in Eugene, Oregon. Her second-place high jump finish in Oregon secured her a spot on the USA Track and Field team and a trip to compete in the Pan American Games.

Surprised and excited at qualifying for the team at such a young age, Crooke’s enjoyment of the sport and good attitude helped her to finish second in Puerto Rico. In addition, her supportive family has a huge interest in athletics. Her father, Denzil (Val) Crooke, and mother, Julie Crooke, opened SocaSpeed Track Club in 2019. Their motivation was to bring young athletes who love track and field together, and train them correctly on the technical aspects of the sport, right from the beginning.

“I wanted to compete in the high jump on the USA team,” Kya Crooke says. “I was excited but I wanted to do my best. While in Puerto Rico, the weather was the most humid I have ever felt in my life. It felt hotter than it was. It started storming and pouring. The event time was pushed back. They had to get the water off the track but there were still puddles. I tried not to think too much, because then I get nervous. When I am having fun, that’s when I do my best.”

Kya CrookeCrooke was 9 years old when her parents opted to have her participate in track. From the start, they noticed she was extremely fast and excelled at sprinting. However, she was drawn to the high jump. Finally, when she turned 11, her parents gave in and discovered that she had a talent for it. The journey has not been effortless.

“Some days of training are amazing,” Crooke says. “Other days it’s like I never did it before. At one point I landed hard and bruised my spine. I got a mental block and had to get past it. My coach, Vic, talked me through it. He said, ‘If you did well before, you can do it again. It doesn’t mean you won’t do well again.’ My personal advice to anyone is never give up.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Fishers Stories

Welcome Back!

Login to your account below

Retrieve your password

Please enter your username or email address to reset your password.

Send me your media kit!

hbspt.forms.create({ portalId: "6486003", formId: "5ee2abaf-81d9-48a9-a10d-de06becaa6db" });