Ocean State High Schoolers Sweep June Athlete of the Month Awards


USATF New England

Athlete of the Month 

June 2019

Ocean State High Schoolers Sweep June Athlete of the Month Awards

USA Track & Field New England has awarded the Athlete of the Month award for June to a pair of Rhode Island High Schoolers, Darius Kipyego of St. Raphael's High and Annika Kelly of Barrington High School. Darius and Annika earn this honor after dominating outdoor seasons, which culminated in the USATF U20 Championship and New Balance Nationals, respectfully. Darius, a sophomore, dropped a 1:51.96 in the 800m prelims to punch his ticket to the finals, where he doubled back to run a 1:51.26 to finish in second place. Annika Kelly, a Princeton commit, tossed the hammer a remarkable 56.49m (185-04) to finish as the national champion at New Balance Outdoor Nationals.    

Full Interviews:


1) Could you tell me a bit about your events at USATF U20 and New Balance? Could you tell me a bit about your mindset heading into the event i.e what you were hoping to accomplish, any goals you had set for yourself?

DK: For the first day or the trials, the only goal we had was to get into the finals. We would have liked a PR but the biggest goal was to get to the finals and that’s what happened. So coming into the next day, we had a plan on how to run it to get to Costa Rica (for the Pan American U20 Championships) because that was the goal. Top 2 make the USA team so that was the ultimate goal. I personally wanted to run a faster time than I did the previous day and I executed the plan me and my coach set and we made the team with some of the best competition like AJ Green and Jonah Hoey. But throughout the weekend we wanted to get to Costa Rica. 

AK: Going into NBNO, I wanted to win. I knew that I had a good shot at winning, but only if I did my best. I started the competition with two fouls. Before that third throw, I knew I just needed to make finals, so I focused and made some adjustments to get that one in. My strategy worked, and I improved on my fourth and fifth throws significantly, securing the win.

2) What is your favorite event to compete in?

DK: My favorite event has always been the 800 even since I was younger. It’s not too long and it’s not too short; I have always loved this event even though it can be very tough at times.

AK: Hammer is my favorite event. I have done a few other throwing events, but I love the combination of precise technique with the raw athleticism of the hammer.

3) What are some of your favorite things to do outside of Track & Field?

DK: Outside of running I like to actually play the piano. I also help out with the church I go to. I’m a proud believer in god and I’m very blessed to have this running ability. I don’t do too much except try to hang out with friends when I have free time.

AK: Off the track, I am heavily involved in several extracurriculars. I was part of the LifeSmarts team that won nationals, I won a few events at Science Olympiad states, helping our team win states and qualify for nationals, and I won the RI Who Wants To Be A Mathematician competition. In my free time, I work as a soccer referee and a mathematics tutor.

4) What’s up next for you? Any events on the horizon that you will be competing in?

DK: The last race for my track season this year will be this race in Costa Rica. After this U20 Championship, I am going to get ready for cross country and show colleges I have some flexibility for distances.

AK: Next Friday (July 19th) I will be competing in the European U20 Championships. After that, I will rest a little bit, then I have a few more competitions such as the Estonian senior nationals before I head off to Princeton University in the Fall.

Questions/Comments to communications@newengland.usatf.org