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Katy Junior High Track Star Breaks 31-year-old Record


April 9, 2021

By Natalie Cook Clark

An 8th grade Memorial Parkway Junior High track star recently shattered a 31-year-old track record in the 400 Meter dash with seconds to spare.

Kendall Hemperley shatters a 31-year track record. Photo courtesy: Derek Hemperley.

Previous Record Set in 1990

8th grader Kendall Hemperley shattered a 31-year track record in the 400 meters earlier this month. She crossed the finish line in 59.23, 2.4 seconds faster than the previous 1:01.63 time set by a student in 1990.

“At a very young age my parents and my peers realized that I had good mechanics while running, that led to my speed,” says Kendall. “I have been running track (timmed) for about 4 years, this includes doing track camp during the summer for 2 years and school this year and last year.”

Hemperley is thankful for winning first place in the race at Districts, especially after events were canceled last year due to COVID.

She broke the record during the Girls Week 2 at the Tompkins High School Meet on March 4.

Coach Knew She Would Break Record

“I knew Kendall was capable of breaking the record,” says Memorial Parkway JH Head Girls Track Coach, Leticia Smith. “I just did not know when she would do it.”

Smith described Kendall as being a hard worker who always does whatever is requested of her. Hemperley’s main sport is

“My competitiveness is the biggest factor in every sport that I do,” says Hemperley. ”For track it was mainly how much my coach hyped me up and told me I would most likely win with just my speed.”

Her competitiveness in soccer is why she started track. Running kept her in shape during the summer and when she wasn’t competing in soccer games. “Then me and my parents realized that this could be something great,” explains Hemperley.

Running Through a Pandemic

Like all athletics and extracurriculars, track athletes have had to distance during the pandemic.

“Track is a place where kids can use their competitive spirits for sure,” says Smith. “It has been hard keeping athletes apart during celebrations, but our students always do what is asked of them.”

Even with Kendall’s victory and the team’s celebration of her successes, Smith looks to the future of the program.

“My goals for the coming years is for my athletes is to learn what hard work really is and how it translates to success on the track and off the track,” says Smith. “It may not be in the form of “winning”, but it could be in the form of personal best.”

“For every person who plays any sport always wants to beat their own best, says Hemperley. “Instead of striving for my personal best, I always tried to get the best time, over everyone.”

Setting Big Goals

Her future goals are to keep beating records and keep winning first place medals.

Hemperley does more than track. She is also active in National Junior Honors Society, art, and other sports. She plays volleyball, basketball in addition to track.

She has been in three rodeo art shows and a spring art show.

“My goals for the future are to hopefully run track in high school as well as play basketball and soccer,” she says. “After high school I want to get a scholarship for both soccer and track.”

Hemperley plans to study to be a doctor but wants to a professional soccer player and have her doctor certificate for when she retires from the sport.

“Track and other sports have given me something to look forward to besides school,” says Hemperley. “Track can also be a stress reliever for me, because when I'm running it is very calming and gives peace to my mind.”


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