Stittums headed to state meet in first season

John Middleton Sports Editor

November 6, 2013

No matter what sport she’s participating in, Harlan County’s Kaitlyn Stittums is going to be successful. The basketball and softball standout added cross country to her already busy schedule this year.

“Kaitlyn came in and immediately became one of our top two or three girls. Once she got in shape her times have dropped incredibly. She has just progressively gotten faster,” said Harlan County coach Ryan Vitatoe. “She is just such a great athlete, great kid and even better teammate.”

Stittums said she initially decided to start running to stay in shape for the upcoming basketball season. However, she quickly learned to love the sport.

“I like the feeling after a hard practice or a long race. I just enjoy working hard and accomplishing something,” she said. “It was an amazing experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. I wish I had done it when I was younger. But, I was lucky to find about it as a senior and spend time with those girls.”

Despite beginning her running career with the Lady Bears just this past season, Stittums has already made a dramatic impact on the Harlan County program. The senior quickly established herself as one of the top runners in southeastern Kentucky. Stittums captured the Area 9 championship and qualified for the state competition with a strong showing in the Region 7 meet last weekend.

“I don’t know that I have ever had any kid as competitive as she is. She hates to lose,” Vitatoe said. ‘She is the type of kid that doesn’t care to make herself hurt to win. What really impress me about her is, even after she found out she made the state meet and that her team didn’t, she was still incredibly upset. She was heartbroken for her teammates. I think that says a lot about her character.”

Stittums also became just the third female runner at Harlan County High School to record a time faster than 22 minutes. She was recently named an All-SEKC runner and is a favorite to earn Area 9 runner of the year honors. Stittums said the success of her cross country season was unexpected.

“I was very surprised,” she stated. “Our team pushes each other very hard and we all get better. I wouldn’t be as good as I have become if it wasn’t for them.”

Stittums will compete in the state cross country meet Saturday at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.