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Perry: Modest yet confident star

Bowling Green State University cross country runner Kailee Perry said “sports aren’t competitive” where she grew up in Kentucky, but she’s proven herself more than competitive as a star for the Falcons.
Keira Ellenberger
Kailee Perry keeping a good pace.

Hailing from the small town of West Liberty, Kentucky, Kailee Perry didn’t always know how to gauge her own abilities.

“Growing up where I’m from, sports aren’t the most competitive,” Perry said. “[but] I was pretty good for my area I’d say.”

Pretty good doesn’t cover it.

Perry finished her high school career with five individual state championships between cross country and track, eventually committing to Bowling Green State University. Despite the nearly 300 miles between BGSU and West Liberty (population about 3,200, or the size of BGSU’s freshmen class), the fit was never a question.

“I knew I wanted to run in college and coach kind of reached out,” Perry said. “To be honest I’d never heard of Bowling Green, but from there, when I had my official [visit], I knew this was where I belonged”

At the collegiate level, she’s earned All-Mid-American Conference honors in cross country twice, once finishing as the individual champion.

As a freshman.

But her success doesn’t come as a surprise to those around her. Just ask BGSU coach Lou Snelling.

“She’s definitely a lead-by-example sort of person,” Snelling said. “When it’s time to work hard [she’s] working hard.”

The hard work has paid off.

Perry opened the 2023 Cross Country season with a victory in the women’s 5K at Akron’s Tommy Evans Invitational, notching a personal best time of 17:50.4. She followed that with a 23rd-place finish at home in Mel Brodt Collegiate Open, a race she described as “not really what I wanted … but still a good effort.”

Even through some inconsistencies between races, Perry said she remains unshaken regarding the remainder of the season ahead. Despite missing all of 2023’s outdoor track season due to some personal obstacles, Perry’s mental strength always puts her in position to be the best she can be

“Your mentality, it comes and goes,” Perry said. “I think having a strong mental game helps you, and that’s definitely what can separate you from good to great.”

Following a 2022 season that saw the team finishing sixth in the league with Perry individually placing ninth the MAC Championships, Perry has no shortage of goals for achieving success this season.

“I hope by the end of the season our team is able to be within that top two to three spots,” Perry said. “We have a lot freshman that can step up, and we have a lot of girls who redshirted last year, so hopefully from a team standpoint we can move up. Individually, I hope to be first-team at MAC. Last year, I was a spot or two shy of that so to be able to be within that top seven is where I want to be.”

Perry’s ambition doesn’t stop at the finish line. After finishing her undergraduate degree in Exercise Science, she began pursuing her doctorate in BGSU’s new physical therapy program.

“It’s a two-year program; it is accelerated, and it’s a lot,” Perry said. “It’s pretty stressful, but at the end of the day, I’m going to get a two-year degree, I’m going to be a doctor, and hopefully I can go home and contribute to my community there.”

When asked to define the name she’s made for herself, Kailee called a spade a spade.

“I’ve proved I can compete with the best and be with the best,” she said. “There’s no limitations and anything can happen.”

The rest of the MAC had best be prepared come October.

The Women’s XC team is in Bethlehem, Pa. this weekend for the Paul Short Run, hosted by Lehigh University. The race on Saturday is set to begin at approximately 11:45 a.m.

For more stories related to BGSU Athletics, follow Falcon Media Sports Network on X (@bg_fmsn).

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