After a long and illustrious running career at Bell County High School, Kelly Brown has signed with the Lincoln Memorial University cross country team.
Brown has been competing at the varsity level for the Lady Cats since she was in the third grade. She’s earned numerous individual and team region titles and also played a big role in Bell County winning state cross country titles in 2005 and 2007.
She said she’s looking forward to competing at the NCAA Division II level.
“I’m very excited. Division II is what I wanted to do because it gives you a good balance of school and running. If you go the SEC or something, that’s where people go that intend to run for living,” Brown said. “Division II is a good option for me because I can work to win the conference and hopefully take our team to win some conference championships, too.”
Brown can speak with some experience on that topic since her brother, James, just completed his sophomore year running for the cross country team at the University of Kentucky.
Brown will be reunited with a pair of her teammates from Bell County. Former Lady Cats Jamie Collins and Brittany Collins are both currently running for LMU.
“It’s pretty cool to have a chance to run with a few girls that were on those state championship teams,” she said.
Kelly’s mother, Susan Brown, is the current girls’ track and cross country coach at Bell County. She got her children started in distance running at an early age and Kelly shared an interesting story about the start of her cross country career.
“They originally wanted my brother to come out and he’s two years older than me. They felt like it was a good time for him to start and my mother brought me out with him,” she said.
Then-Bell County cross country coach Chuck Blank was hesitant at first to let eight-year-old Kelly run with the high schoolers. He even told Susan that the team wasn’t a baby-sitting service.
“We got to the first meet and James ran in the first race and did pretty well. Then I got out there as a little-bitty thing and I was way behind heading up the mountain. But coming down off the mountain I was in the front with the rest of the pack,” Brown said. “Coach Blank looked at my mom and said: ‘She will run.’ Up until then they weren’t going to let me run because I was just a little girl. It feels good to know that that day kind of spawned my whole future.”
Brown plans to study Pre-Med Biology and Chemistry at LMU.
“I had thought about not running in college, but ten years of my life have been molded around running,” she added. “It feels good to know that all that work I put in is going to pay off, it’s paying for my school. It just shows that hard work will pay off eventually.”