The Devil we know
The Arizona State Sun Devils inked one hell of a middle-distance runner.
Kala Stone of the Kamloops Track and Field Club (KTFC) signed on this week with the NCAA Division 1 school and will start her college track-and-field career this fall.
"I've been going through the recruiting process for the past year and Arizona was the school that I liked best," said Stone, who spoke to KTW from South Kamloops secondary during a study block.
"I visited in January. I loved the coaches and the team and the facilities and the school itself — and the weather."
Stone, who will turn 18 on Saturday, Feb. 9, said about 80 per cent of her schooling will be covered by Arizona State.
Adding to the allure of the desert was the school's proximity to a Canadian high-performance training base, run in the winter months by Athletics Canada middle-distance running coach Wynn Gmitroski.
The university is located in Tempe, about 15 minutes from the training base.
"I think that provides opportunity for the future," Stone said. "Being in the area and keeping the Canadian connection. Other schools were offering me a full ride, but I really wanted to go to a school that was the best fit for me."
Stone clocked Canada’s third-best youth 1,500m time (4:34.55) last season, along with the fourth-quickest 3,000m mark (10:03.8).
She also ran a career-best 2:13.87 in the 800m last season.
Those three times were the fastest recorded last season by any female British Columbian runner in her age group.
Stone won gold in the under-18 girls’ 1,500m, silver in the 800m and bronze in the 4X400m relay at the 2012 Legion Canadian Youth Athletics Championships.
She has won gold four years running in the 1,500m — her favourite event — at the B.C. High School Championships and will look to five-peat this season.
Stone is also an excellent cross-country runner, winning in 2012 the provincial cross-country championship in the 16- to 19-year-old division before placing 16th at nationals.
“She’s one of the top distance runners in Canada," Arizona State distance-running coach Ryan Cole said on the Sun Devils' website.
"We look forward to her coming in and contributing to our mid-distance group and watching her progress during the upcoming track and field season.
"She’s an athletic kid, maybe a bit underdeveloped, and will be able to contribute in cross-country as well."
The budding track star's KTFC coach, Bruno Mazzotta, will likely be monitoring her progress closely.
“She has the talent to go all the way — Olympics,” Mazzotta said.