WINDHAM — There are a few things that make it obvious Kate Hall is a cut above the average high school athlete.
Such as wanting to face better national-level competition during her senior year. A three-time high school All-American, Hall said she would like to run in New York City’s Millrose Games next winter to “face Olympians and professionals there.”
Hall, 17, is a home-schooled junior who competes for Lake Rehion High. She is also the state record-holder in the 100 and 200 meters, and the long jump. In June she placed third in the 100 (11.45 seconds), sixth in the long jump (19 feet, 4.25 inches) and eighth in the 200 (24.01) at the New Balance nationals in North Carolina. She earned All-American status in the first two events to go with All-American honors indoors in the long jump during the winter.
For her national performance and continued ability to raise her own bar, Hall is the Maine Sunday Telegram Performer of the Year in girls’ outdoor track and field. She also was selected by the newspaper as the overall female Athlete of the Year in Maine high school sports.
What’s not so obvious about Hall is she’s a type-1 diabetic, a condition that makes excelling as an athlete challenging, if not difficult.
High blood sugar gives her muscle cramps and low blood sugar makes her shake or feel dizzy. Hall said she’s always affected by having her blood sugar either spike or drop at a meet, so she must constantly monitor it.
At the National Scholastic Athletics Foundation in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, the host organization for the national meet, records show a handful of female athletes earn All-American honors in multiple events in a given year.
So Hall is not unique in this regard, although she is in an elite group.
But what truly sets her apart is her disease, said Steve Underwood, the foundation’s director of media relations.
“I wouldn’t consider myself an expert in that area, but I can’t think of any top-notch prep track athletes who are/were diabetic,” he said.
As Hall relaxed before her summer job at an ice cream stand, her disease was not evident. As she snacked on a coffee cappuccino with marshmallow topping, she looked like any other soon-to-be high school senior.
“I love anything with marshmallow,” she confessed.
But at the Class B state meet this spring in which Hall won four events, she lined up to compete in a sprint or jumping event 15 times. And all along the way, she had to monitor her blood sugar behind the scenes.
“I started warming up around 10:30 a.m. and finished all of my events at 4:30 p.m. I probably had no more than 45 minutes to an hour of down time throughout all of that,” Hall said.
“It’s definitely hard to monitor my blood sugar throughout a busy meet. But of course I make it a priority. If it goes too high I always give insulin to try to bump it back down. I have to be careful not to give too much insulin in case it goes low. If it goes low then I immediately need to eat or drink something in order for it to go up as soon as possible.”
At the bigger meets, such as the nationals, monitoring and getting her blood-sugar level right is even more critical.
Each of the three days Hall competed at the nationals she had only one event to focus on. She ate breakfast, checked her blood-sugar levels, then left for the meet and checked her levels again. Then warming up, she checked her levels before competing.
“At the bigger meets, I know I have to get it right,” Hall said.
And yet Hall faces the disease that manifested itself when she was 10 years old with an optimistic spirit.
“It has made me a better person. That’s the one positive,” Hall said. “I still have to live with diabetes. And at first I was really scared. But it’s helped me learn more about myself and what I can achieve as an athlete. It’s helped me in life. It’s taught me discipline.”
That discipline has helped her make her mark in Maine.
Underwood in North Carolina said she’s already there.
“I don’t think we’ve ever seen a better sprinter/jumper, boy or girl, come out of Maine,” he said. “The few sprinters/jumpers I can think of on Kate’s level in the entire New England region over the years would probably be from the major metropolitan areas like Boston or Providence. I think Kate’s definitely a ground-breaking student athlete.”