Kaelyn Monroe, 8


Her story: At the age of 5, Kaelyn attended her cousin’s high-school track meet, and there she told her mother that she wanted to run. And run she has. In just three years, Kaelyn has blossomed into one of the nation’s top sprinters in her age group. At the USA Track & Field National Junior Olympic Championships last summer in Wichita, Kan., she took second place in the 800 meters, fifth in the 400 meters and third in the 4×400-meter relay team. This came after strong showings at state and regional qualifying meets, including a first-place finish in the 800 meters at regionals, which were held in Escondido, Calif., and featured athletes from Hawaii, Nevada and Southern California.

School: Dondero Elementary School, third grade

Extras: When she’s not practicing three times a week (for a total of about eight hours) with her track club, Blazin’ Onez, Kaelyn focuses on her studies (she’s a straight-A student) or tuning in to the Food Network. She often helps prepare dinner, and with her mom’s supervision, she has seasoned and baked chicken cutlets all by herself. Her favorite dish is mapo tofu and couscous.

What she’ll be doing in 10 years: Despite her bright future in track, Kaelyn confidently declares, “I want to be a chef.”

What they’re saying about her: “Kaelyn is very strong-willed, and she’s a natural because of her effort,” says Bobby Bolden, her track coach. “And because she’s competing on a national level, she’s running against the best in the country. She can bank on a [college] scholarship, and even the Olympics [is a possibility].”