By DRAKE LOHSE
The air around Kevin Kelly doesn’t move.
The Kilcock, Ireland native sat down with The Times-Delphic this past week in the Quad Creek Cafe. His nails were painted blue and white. One arm is coated in a red suede jacket and draped over the back of his chair. He speaks slowly and deliberately. Kevin Kelly is unapologetically Kevin Kelly.
“I reached a point last season where I was really putting too much on my shoulders,” Kelly said. “Worrying more about the well-being of the team than my own well-being. I needed to be a bit selfish.”
This past summer, Kelly says he took some much needed time away, a mental break. He spent time with friends, relaxing and enjoying the warm weather before his final season at Drake. But when the summer started to come to a close, and with the new season on the horizon, Kelly was ready to shift back in gear. He sat down and made a list of goals for the upcoming season. One of those goals? To break a record, a very old one.
“I truthfully had no idea how long that record had stood,” Kelly said. “Not until someone had told me back at the hotel that night.”
4:01:47. That’s the time Kevin Kelly needed to forever cement his name in Drake lore. His time shatters the previous record for the mile, held for nearly 38 years. The feat came at the Husker Invite in Nebraska. But ask Kevin how he felt the moment he knew he would break the record, and he’ll tell you the truth.
“I really was just pissed that I didn’t get under 4 minutes,” Kelly said. “That was was what I wanted more than anything, for me it wasn’t a monumental, emotional thing. It’s been a goal of mine all season, but that morning at the hotel, it was just like, ready to go break the record?”
Kevin’s confidence is unconventional, but genuine, and he balances it with a genuine sense of modesty and understanding of how he accomplished what he has. He’s aware of the support from his team. He said it couldn’t have been possible without the months of hard work. The clean eating, the long hours of training.
“Since meeting Kevin his tenacity and passion for Track is more than apparent,” Drake distance coach Jay Koloseus said. “He approaches the sport with confidence in his abilities and a desire to always grow as an athlete. Kevin definitely brings a new level of focus and talent to the distance group.”
Kevin’s charisma may be representative of a Drake Athletic body that is experiencing a renaissance. The success of men and women’s basketball, coupled with the near-stunner against Iowa State back in football season, sees the Bulldogs alive with new, resilient, selfless, blood.
“It doesn’t matter how I feel when I wake up in the morning, what kind of day I’ve had,” Kelly said. “Good or bad, I still have to go out and perform.”
And what’s next on the list of goals for Kevin Kelly?
“I want to break the record again. This time under four minutes, for sure.”
Kevin will have the opportunity to do so the day after Valentine’s Day, when the Bulldogs travel back to Nebraska for the Nebraska Tune-Up.
Photo courtesy of Drake athletics