Meet an Atlanta teenage track and field phenom who is poised to become an U.S. Olympic Gold Medal winning superstar speedster. She’s Kayleigh Stargell, a 13-year-old Lovett School 8th grader, who is a 2019 AAU Junior Olympic junior Olympic champion and national record setter. “She actually broke the 200-meter hurdle record twice,” informs Kayleigh’s mother.
“She broke it first in the preliminaries by running 27 seconds flat and she turned around in the finals and ran 26.84, making her the first 13-year-old ever to run a sub 27,” proudly says Kristie Jackson Stargell. “No one [in her age group] has never hit 26 seconds in that event ever.”
Kayleigh has emerged as an upcoming “Special K” track stellar performer. She does the Pentathlon, where she has five track and field events: the100 meter hurdles, 800 meters, the shot put, long jump and high jump. Last year at the United States of America Track and Field [USATF] Junior Olympics she won a national championship in that event. This year in the USATF Junior Olympics she won the Silver Medal in the Pentathlon. Silver is second place, number two in the country. She also runs the 200-meter and 400-meter sprint dashes.
That’s why Kayleigh Stargell is ranked as one of America’s elite and premier athletes. “Absolutely,” opines her cheerleader mother Kristie Stargell “If you know anything about track and field and you’re talking about 13/14-year-old girls her name comes up. Everybody is familiar with her. In Georgia, she's one of the top if not the top. Kayleigh is between 1, 2 and 3 as of overall track athletes in the state and the country.
Kayleigh admits that the sport of track and field is her joy and athletic passion, though she also successfully competes in an array of others. “In off season she plays softball and soccer, and, in the winter, she plays basketball. She stays busy until track season begins,” says her mom.
“Yes, I love the track. It's really fun”, says Kayleigh. “I feel very proud because I haven't really put thought into it that I’m one of the best in the country and my state. So, track brings me a lot of joy and I do play other sports, but I like this one the best because I’m the best in it.”
Kayleigh began her career as a 6-year-old prodigy, and now wants to attend the University of Southern California [USC] before achieving her ultimate dream as an as a 2024 and 2028 Olympic Gold Medal winner.
“I'm thinking about the Olympics because I just want to strive for greatness and whatever's in my future I want to follow and pursue, she says passionately and persuasively.
New Orleans native Tyrone Jones, who has been Stargell’ s track coach for the past five years, marvels at “her beyond her age” talent and skills. “All I did was straighten up her mechanics, got her stronger and got her thinking about her gifted ability in the right direction. She had the drive herself. And she needed someone to harness and control it. When she came to me at eight years old, she said ‘I don't want to lose.’ She did it. I look for big things from Kayleigh. She’s one of the nation’s best.”
Coach Jones is a former wide receiver for the NFL’s Indiana Colts from ’96 to ‘98 and another10 years in the Arena Football League. “That’s where my training came from. I was in tune with the techniques and mechanics of running, and how you get faster.”
As for Kayleigh Stargell’ s tomorrows, Jones positively projects: “She’s on a crash course for herself meaning, I see great things from her as a 400-meter hurdler sprinter, and a 400 meter and 800-meter sprinter. I see Olympic potential,” opines the former ‘81 Grambling State University teammate of the late legendary quarterback Steve McNair. “She’s one of the best. Train insane is my motto for my kids. You must work and train insane to be one of the greats in Georgia, and Kayleigh’s one of them.”