Rio Grande --- University of Rio Grande senior track and field athlete Kyle Hively is beginning to make a name for himself in race-walking circles. Hively will use his final semester of eligibility this spring during the outdoor season for Rio Grande track and field. This fall and winter he has been competing as an amateur athlete in various race-walking events across the country, paying his own way to the events as he tries to secure a future in the sport.
Most recently, Hively, a native of Vinton, Ohio, competed at the 104thMillrose Games in New York City (Jan. 28), which is one of the pinnacles of the sport. He finished 7th (out of seven) in the 1-mile race walk with a time of 6:54.60. The Millrose Games were held at the famed Madison Square Garden.
"It was a great experience, just experiencing the crowd and the track was like nothing I've raced on before," Hively said. "It was just a great experience."
Hively talked about what was going through his mind as he prepared to compete at one of the great venues in the world. "My mom told me ‘when you get on the track, as you're going around just think about everybody that's been there'," he said. "Just to be there and be in that arena, it was just amazing."
Hively said that he was pleased with his time. "Yes I was because, you got to understand the track that you're on, it's a banked track and you're going around that thing and the track isn't flat and it's just really hard to race there," he said. "It's not (designed) for fast times, it's just not, it's not a fast track."
Besides Hively and former Rio race-walking standout Matt Boyles, who is now the head cross country coach at Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa, the only other known Rio Grande athletes to compete at Madison Square Garden was the legendary Bevo Francis led basketball team on December 3, 1953 against Adelphi College. Hively said he was honored to have competed in the same venue as Bevo and the Redmen basketball team of 1953.
Hively has steadily improved in his three years as a race-walker. Last year, he earned NAIA All-American honors at the NAIA Indoor Meet, finishing 4th in the 3,000-meter race walk with a time of 13:51.99, which was well over a minute better than his top time all season. He finished 10th in the NAIA indoor meet in 2009 with a time of 14:23.27. Hively was 14th at the NAIA Outdoor Meet in 2009, which covered 5,000-meters.
Once he finishes up his collegiate career, Hively wants to continue competing in race-walking events with an eye toward the United States Olympic Trials in 2012. "I would like to get some financial backing, obviously after my college career, but it does take money and you do need sponsors," he said. "The goal is to get to the Trials for 2012."
Hively gives a ton a credit for what he has learned to Boyles and Rio Grande head track and field coach Bob Willey. "Between those two coaches, they brought me along, introduced me to race-walking," Hively said. "Boyles was a real big contributor obviously, he gave me the base, the distance and Coach (Willey) threw in the speed this year and it's just made me a whole different athlete from last year, just having everything come together."
Hively has competed in both indoor and outdoor settings with varying degrees of success. He explains the difference between the two. "Indoor, if you don't do the right type of speed early, me personally, you have a lot of trouble with your hips, because the turns are tight," Hively said. "That was one of my concerns with that track (at the Millrose Games) because I've had a few hip problems before."
"It's a little harder to race indoor because of the track and tight turns, but also outdoor it kind of evens out because you have the potential (weather) conditions," he added. "The tight turns do make it hard though."
Although he has not competed for Rio Grande this year, he will be back on the track competing when the outdoor season commences in late March.