Name: Kiara Wesseh
School: Newark, junior
Sport: Track and field
Why she was selected: Wesseh took second in the Class 1A high jump, clearing 5 feet, 5 inches, took third in the 60-meter dash in 8.02 seconds and took third in the 60-meter hurdles in 9.17 seconds at the Illinois Top Times Invitational unofficial indoor state meet in Bloomington. She was chosen as the Athlete of the Week in an online vote. Here is her interview with Joshua Welge.
Welge: How do you feel about your performance at Top Times?
Wesseh: I was very happy with my performance. I was excited to be able to PR in the hurdles and the 60. My legs were pretty tired by the time I got to high jump, so I was proud I was still able to jump through that. I am excited about where I am starting this season, and am hoping to progress as the season continues.
Welge: What kind of work did you put in, track-wise, since last season?
Wesseh: After my sophomore season I was able to participate in the heptathlon and high jump in the AAU nationals in North Carolina. That pushed me to train over the summer. Before indoor season picked up I was able to get some high jumping practice with my wonderful coaches Doc [Jeff] Schutt and Jenni Giertz. We moved to a 10-step approach, which I feel will be really effective. They have done so much for me and keep improving the jumper that I am.
Welge: Where do you get your great athletic abilities from? Do you have other athletes in the family?
Wesseh: My parents were both athletes, so I definitely got some good genes from them, ha ha. They both played sports in college, and my dad was a professional soccer player.
Welge: What are some goals for this year?
Wesseh: My overall goal is to keep improving in each event as the season goes on. I would also like to do well at the titanomachy event this year. That was a very fun meet last year, and I looking forward to competing in it again with my teammates. I also have a goal of performing well at state in my events this year.
Welge: How do you keep your focus during big meets?
Wesseh: When I arrive at the meet I like to put in my air pods and listen to worship music. That really locks me in and helps me focus. I try to keep the same warmup routine for each meet. Whenever I start to feel nervous, I remind myself that whatever happens is what is supposed to happen, and that really keeps me at peace. I also remind myself that my worth is not dependent on how I perform, and that takes off a lot of pressure. It really helps me to visualize myself doing my events beforehand and taking sips of water.
Welge: You’re really good at three different sports. Is there a sport you have tried that you were not great at?
Wesseh: Ha ha ha. That is a very kind compliment. The only sports I have done are track, volleyball, basketball and dance and have been blessed to do well in those. You know, now that I think about it, I’m not the best bowler. Not one of my strengths.
Welge: This being spring break, if you could go anywhere for your next vacation where would it be?
Wesseh: I would absolutely love to go to Hawaii. I just love the sun and am obsessed with fruit and the beautiful tropical flowers. So I definitely feel like Hawaii is the place for me.
Welge: What’s your favorite TV show or movie?
Wesseh: I recently watched the “Hunger Games” series and I loved it, so I would have to say that those are my favorite movies.