Niles’ Thompson turns in top 10 finish at Shamrock Cross Country Invitational

Published 12:58 pm Wednesday, September 1, 2021

BERRIEN SPRINGS — Niles’ Kierstyn Thompson enjoyed her first day of school on Tuesday.

The junior cross country runner enjoyed it so much that she almost forgot that she and the rest of her team were competing in the Shamrock Invitational after school at Berrien Springs.

“I knew there was a meet,” she said. “It just wasn’t on my mind because it was the first day of school, and I was trying to figure out my classes.”

It did not take her long to lock in as she led the Vikings with a seventh-place finish at the meet with a season-best time of 22:31.20.

“It was rough,” Thompson said. “It’s hard with the open fields, but I felt pretty good today. It was a good day to run. It was nice weather for a race. So other than the fields and stuff, it was pretty fun.”

Aubrey Jackson (23:55.50) placed 21st for the Vikings and Eva Shepherd (24:07.40), Cassandra Shortman (24:23.00) and Ansley McIntosh (24:47.40) finished 23rd, 26th and 27th, respectively, to round out Niles’ scoring.

The Vikings placed fifth out of six teams, with Battle Creek Harper Creek winning the meet with a score of 33. Preslee Perkins, of Lakeshore, won the girls meet with a time of 21:29.40.

“We had some PRs [personal record] today,” said Niles girls cross country coach Jami Foster. “Half of my team had PRs today, so I’m very happy with that. Overall, as a team, we’re not where I’d like us to be. We did not place as well as I thought we would. Going forward, we need to focus on team results and moving up in our tournaments and invites.”

Foster has been impressed with Thompson’s start to the season.

“Kierstyn is running really well right now,” she said. “She has been consistently in the top 10 at all four of our events so far, and she is doing a nice job leading the team right now. I’m really happy with her performance.”

For Thompson, running is a family affair. Her sister, Kaylee, was Niles’ top runner when she graduated in 2020. Her older brother ran cross country as did her father, who ran in college.

“I’ve been running my whole life,” she said. “It’s like a family thing. It just feels almost freeing, and it’s a good, natural high. I really appreciate running and how it makes me feel.”

As the leader of this year’s Niles team, Thompson believes she is on the right track toward achieving her goals.

“One of my goals is to get into the 20s,” Thompson said. “My PR right now is [21:22], but I feel like I’m on track right now. I mean, I’m in the third meet and I’m already a minute from my PR so I feel pretty good about where I am right now and I’m excited.”

As Thompson continues to improve her time, the opportunity for her to run at the next level increases. While she plans to continue running after high school, she has not committed to competing in college just yet.

“I haven’t fully decided,” Thompson said. “It depends on what I want to study. Right now, I’m kind of thinking about the medical field. If I do that, I don’t really want to because it’s gonna be a lot. I definitely want to be running in the future, I’m just not sure if I want to compete.”

In the meantime, Thompson plans to enjoy her remaining two years of high school to the fullest.

“I really enjoy school,” she said. “Math is probably my favorite subject and hanging out with friends is the best part of it. I actually switched from New Tech [curriculum] to traditional this year, so I feel like I’m a freshman right now figuring out traditional as a junior. It’s been really fun, I enjoy it.”