The Grind: Kaylee Dupont, South Forsyth High School
Kaylee DuPont, as many kids do, tried lots of different sports and activities when she was growing up. There was horseback riding, swimming, dance and softball, where her fleetness on the basepaths earned her the nickname “Speedy.”
“That’s what I liked to do, was run,” DuPont said. “I couldn’t necessarily hit the ball always.”
It was a logical step, then, for DuPont to try out for track in middle school. She first tried to be a sprinter, but by the end of that day, DuPont went home in tears, wondering if she would even make the team.
The next day showed DuPont that running was her sport after all. She ran the 800 on the gravel track outside her school and won her heat in “2:35, or something like that.” She joined South Forsyth’s cross country team as a freshman, finished second overall in the varsity race in her first meet and has been helping to lead the War Eagles since then. Last week, DuPont decided on the next step of her running career and committed to the University of Georgia, where she’ll join former South teammate Millie Bergey.
DuPont has racked up four years of notable accomplishments in both track and cross country. She has never finished worse than third place in a region cross country championship meet and has three top-10 finishes in the state meet to her name, including second-place last year. This past spring, DuPont was sixth in Class 7A in the 3,200 meters and seventh in the 1,600.
Her career hasn’t been without challenges, though. DuPont went through a minor slump her sophomore year and struggled with burnout, enough so that she considered not even running track that spring. Her father helped DuPont snap out of it, telling to her to think of it as training for cross country, her main passion.
“I guess it’s just the team aspect,” DuPont said of the appeal of cross country. “I grow so close to the girls. They really are my sisters.”
DuPont is the senior presence, literally and figuratively, of this year’s team. The War Eagles look to have a strong shot at their second straight state title, even with a group that’s composed mostly of underclassmen and has had sophomore Caroline Patterson, one of its top runners, hampered by injury for much of the season.
The state race will be at the same Carrolton venue that DuPont has run three times before, and she knows that her experience is an asset.
“If you go out too fast on that Carrolton course, it’s a really hilly course, so you can struggle the last half of the race,” DuPont said. “…Which I have done before. It’s nice having that experience.”
Next fall, she’ll be in another infamously hilly locale, running in Athens with the Bulldogs and Bergey. DuPont had taken a visit to Georgia Tech, and she was also considering Missouri, but UGA was always towards the top of her list. When she called Bergey on FaceTime to tell her about the commitment, her reaction wasn’t particularly subdued.
“She started crying,” DuPont said with a laugh. “She was so excited for me to be there with her next year.”