Makayla Riles '26 knew from her earlier days as a gymnast that she was a fast and powerful runner. She was propelled by a velocity that made her vault better, tumble faster and reach impressive heights. Now, she’s reaching impressive heights as a first-year sprinter at WRA.

As any runner knows, the sport is hard. It involves a dialogue with oneself that to Makayla,  sounds like, “pacing…rhythm…you’ve got this…there’s no need to think.”

Her internal narrative has translated to lauded success in her first year, winning individual and relay events with whip fast times, including an 8.09 60-meter at the last meet of the season, an invitational at Ashland University. With her times, she has qualified for the New Balance Track Indoor Nationals and Nike Indoor Track Nationals in the 60-meter, elite 9th grade division.

Makayla could probably make it from home to campus in no time (by foot!) as she lives just down the road in Twinsburg. She had her eye on WRA since middle school and is a bright spot on campus on even the dreariest of winter and spring days, which themselves are a mental hurdle to track and field athletes in Northeast Ohio. She credits everyone at the school, and her teammates, for being “really welcoming and making it easy to adapt.” But she won’t be blending in anytime soon.

Makayla credits Coach Chaput and her parents for helping her succeed. Her parents come to every meet, cheering her on from the stands. As for Coach Chaput, Makayla says, “he’s very good with feedback — he always has a plan and a goal and this gives me confidence that I can get it done.”

Makayla finds inspiration in other runners. “Watching people push themselves is really helpful,” she says. She knows a thing or two about pushing herself, managing her asthma every day and bouncing back from two bouts with COVID. But you’d never know it as Nationals approach, because Makayla not only looks like a contender, but appears to be on track to catapult Reserve’s track program to the stratosphere.

Good luck, Makayla — we’re all cheering for you!!