It was last cross country season that Kyle Balderson of Sherwood broke out as a top area distance runner when he won the northern Virginia "triple crown" by being the top placing finisher at Great Meadows, Oatlands, and Octoberfest. He went on to place sixth in the county in a personal best time of 16:22. His improvements did not stop there as he dropped under 10:00 for 3200-meters for the first time when he placed 5th at the indoor state meet. He later dropped his personal best down to 9:34 when he placed second at the county championship. In his second year of running injury free, the sky seems to be the limit as he will train with and chase after a new elite teammate this fall.
MoCoRunning: When did the running thing start for you?
Balderson: The whole running thing started for me when I was in middle school. I joined cross country because the girl I liked at the time did it so I figured I would too.
MoCoRunning: At the Outdoor Montgomery County Championship, you ran a faster 3200-meter race than Tommy Mullings or Chris Barnard ever did in high school (9:34). Does that blow your mind?
Balderson: Haha, yeah that does blow my mind. Especially since I beat Chris's and Tommy's time as a junior and I still have another year left to improve. Chris and Tommy were/are really great runners and I would have never expected to be faster than them in any race.
MoCoRunning: What was the difference between your sophomore and junior years? Was it just being healthy?
Balderson: The difference between my sophmore and junior years was being healthy. In my sophmore year I had a stress fracture in my right fibula. So that made running pretty hard even though I continued to practice and race. I was healthy in my junior year and Russell [Speiden] and I knew we had to step it up to be good.
MoCoRunning: After your successful junior year, how do you plan to continue improving?
Balderson: After my junior year I plan to continue improving by training even harder than before, but that won't be to hard now that Solomon is here.
MoCoRunning: How has life changed since Solomon Haile came along? He has made distance runs a little bit faster, but what else does he bring to the team that outside fans wouldn't know about?
Balderson: Besides making every run a little bit faster, Solomon Haile brings a whole new set of drills that we do after practice, and he encourages everybody to go faster if they start to fall behind. Solomon is a really nice guy. He fits in very well. We all make jokes together and he is just very chill.
MoCoRunning: Last year, Sherwood did not qualify for the cross country state championship as a team. What was it like at the regional championship when you and your teammates found out? What was it like running with only one teammate at the state championship?
Balderson: When we found out that we didnt make states as a team it was sad and kind of depressing. Reeks was mad because we all had a pretty bad day, except for Russell. I think there was like 30 seconds between each person. At the state championship meet it was weird to only be running with one teammate. We didn't do our normal cheer before we ran because there was only two of us. You kind of get a different mentality going into it because you're not running for your whole team.
MoCoRunning: To me, Sherwood looks like they will be one of the most improved teams in the state this year after coming up short at regionals last year. Have you and your teammates discussed the possibility of gunning for the state title?
Balderson: We have not discussed gunning for the state title. I think we need to focus on just getting to the state meet as a team first.
MoCoRunning: What does Kyle Balderson do when not running intervals or tempo workouts?
Balderson: Lets see, when I'm not running I like to hang out with friends, go to movies, eat, sleep, play video games, basketball, golf, bowl, laser tag, longboard, and go on the computer.