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April 02, 2021
Youth Spotlight - Jacob Kao
New Mass. HS 200 meter and 4 x 200 record holder and
USATF New England (USATF-NE) features
(Acton Boxborough HS/Assabet TC) as a Youth Spotlight athlete for March 2021. Kao set a Massachusetts high school record in the 200 meters at the adidas Indoor Nationals on February 28th, where he finished in 21.54 seconds for third place in the race. In the same meet, he also set a personal-best time of 6.40 seconds in the 55meter dash.
In the same meet, his team from Acton-Boxborough HS combined to establish a state record in the 4 x 200 meter relay with their 1:28.10, as Kao contributed a 21.55 second split for his leg.
USATF-NE spoke with Kao about his accomplishments.
You’re a senior now. What do you consider to be the highlight of your high school athletic career?
: I think that’s a tough question. Most high-level meets have been really awesome for me. I always say my favorite moment was, I think, two years ago at All-States after the 4x400m relay. If anyone has ever run the 4x4, they know you’re kind of stressed the whole meet until you finally get it over with and you’re done. You can just eat candy or whatever. My team, we were all really nervous. We had all run two or three events beforehand but we were kind of just a scrappy team. I was a sophomore. There were a couple of guys who had become distance guys and had just moved down to the sprints, so we weren’t expecting anything big. But we ended up getting our school record that year, which we were crazy happy with. We improved by about four seconds on the time we had run at the beginning of the season. So that was a really great moment because it wasn’t really an individual thing, it was where I had accomplished something with the team, which I really value about track. As much as it’s an individual sport, I think the team aspect is just super valuable. So having that success, seeing that kind of accomplishment with my guys was just something special.
Next year you’ll be competing as a student-athlete at Yale. What went into the decision to choose Yale as your school?
For me, the first priority was academics. I wanted to go somewhere that would set me up well for the future. Since I don’t plan to go pro or anything, having a good education was the first priority. Obviously, Yale is good in that respect, but also I really connected with the coach. He is a really great guy. It was a tough recruiting process over quarantine because things were a little bit ambiguous without official visits -or even unofficial visits - so he really got me through that. And I really connected with people on the team. There’s a lot of really fast guys, so yeah, I’m excited to be a small fish in a big pond again and learn from those guys. I think it will be a really great opportunity.
: You certainly have a great 55m time and a great 200m, and I can see you running a fast 400m. Is this something that you’ve thought through?
: I think I’ll probably do whatever coach wants. Trusting the process has been key for me, I don’t really have a priority. I think I like running the 200 better than the 400 because it hurts less, but yeah, I’ll do whatever my coach wants and just go from there.