Former Lordstown track star
finishes college career at Tiffin
By Joe Scalzo
It’s been about two months since Kayla Ellks’ college track career ended, which means she’s free to resume eating Taco Bell (a weakness earlier in her college career) and drinking Dr. Pepper (a weakness in high school).
“Actually, the majority of the grocery shopping is organic stuff,” the Lordstown High graduate said. “But every once in a while, I get some frozen yogurt.”
That’s right, everybody. Her idea of going wild is to eat frozen yogurt.
“Yeah, I’m kind of the opposite of how I was in high school, when I would drink pop every day,” she said, laughing. “Now that I’m done, I’m kind of more focused on eating healthy.”
Ellks did more than just improve her eating habits at Division II Tiffin, where she arrived four years ago as a promising athlete and finished as the Dragons’ all-time leading scorer at the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference meet.
Ellks piled up 95.25 points over four years — including a career-high 34 at this year’s meet — while setting school records in the long jump (5.81 meters, or 19-03/4 feet) and the triple jump (12.02 meters or 39-51/4 feet).
Her triple jump distance is the third-best in conference history.
“Going into the GLIAC meets, my goal was always to score as many points as possible because I wanted to win and help our team get as close to Ashland as possible because they’re our rival team,” said Ellks, who was also a talented hurdler and heptathlete. “I actually found out after [this year’s meet] that I set the record. I had no idea.
“When my coach told me, I was like, ‘Holy cow.’”
Ellks improved every season — “Coming into college, I didn’t know how well I’d do, but I kept getting better,” she said — and fell just short of her ultimate goal of qualifying for the NCAA Division II national meet. (She earned provisional marks in both jumping events.)
“I was always so close and always missed it,” she said. “It was hard not getting there but I exceeded all my expectations coming out of high school. I’m happy with the accomplishments I had.”
Ellks will graduate in December with degrees in law enforcement and forensic science. She’s interning with the local police department this summer and plans to help the coaching staff this fall, “so I can’t totally leave track behind.”
She also plans to find an outlet for her competitiveness after college. Her boyfriend, Dillon Klein, does CrossFit (an elite fitness program) and has lost 80 pounds in the last year. (A graduate assistant for Tiffin’s golf team, Klein is hoping to turn pro.) Ellks said she might get into CrossFit or go into figure modeling.
“I’m still working out, I’m still in the gym, I’m still running every once in a while,” she said. “I need to do something competitive. That’s just the way I am.”