On November 3, 2020, Kaylee Arndt got a call from her English teacher to tell her the news. In fact, the news was staring at her in the face as she read the email. The email was the one she had been waiting for, and her patience paid off. Congratulations to Kaylee Arndt of Fillmore Central High School, state winner of the Heisman High School Scholarship. Considering she was one of two winners statewide, Kaylee was duly enthusiastic about the news. “I was pretty excited, it’s definitely a big honor. It’s very special since they pick so few winners from each state across the country!”
At the beginning of the school year, 17-year-old Kaylee Arndt was told about the Heisman Scholarship from her English teacher, Joni Mehus, and she recommended Kaylee to apply for it. To be eligible for the scholarship, a student needs to participate in at least one sport in their high school career and have a GPA of at least 3.0. They also need to be a leader in their school, the community, and serve as a role model for underclassmen. Not only does Kaylee fit the eligibility requirements, she is an exceptional example of them. She has a 4.0 GPA and is involved in both track and cross country. When asked how she has been a leader in school, Kaylee shared an example from cross country. “I’m proud to be in charge of our cross country summer practices. I line up the team and we find times to do group runs in the summer. I send out information through text messages to the team and we alternate towns where we like to run. Usually twice a week during summer we’ll meet at a location and I’ll lead them through stretches and then we’ll all go on a group run together. I also lead the after-run strength exercises. It’s fun to lead group practice and then we can all condition for the season.”
Running has been part of her life early on because Kaylee’s mom, Tanya Arndt, is a runner. She also has a cousin that is in cross country, and when 7th grade rolled around Kaylee thought she would try it. “I was around my mom who ran all the time so it seemed like a natural thing.” Seventh grade cross country became something she really liked, and Kaylee’s first season motivated her to continue with the sport. “We had a really good varsity team my 7th grade year and they went to state. Only seven people go to state and I was actually the seventh runner on the team so I got to go with and run at state. Even though I was only the seventh runner and only the top five runners scored, it was an amazing experience for me because it made me really want to work hard. That’s what kind of hooked me onto running.” Then the following year the team went to state again, and this time Kaylee was one of the top five runners. “I worked really hard and improved a lot. Then I went again as an individual in 9th grade. It was a great experience going to state with the team, and it motivated me and helped me to succeed in the next few years with cross country.”
Kaylee Arndt has an accomplished high school running career. In cross country she was All-Conference in 9th, 10th and 12th grade, and went to state as an individual in 9th grade. For track, she was All-Conference in 9th and 10th grade, and Kaylee holds the school’s 3200 meter race record. So where does her inner drive come from? “From being a runner. A lot of it comes from not wanting to give up and to always keep pushing. With running it’s very much a mental sport. As soon as your body wants to quit your mind has to keep telling it to go and keep going all the way to the finish line. I love the feeling of pushing past the limits you thought you had, but then you find out you didn’t.”
Academically, Kaylee has had a lot of success too, and when asked how she balanced sports and schoolwork she shared this. “I love the balance because cross country and track are a nice break from academics. It kind of gives you a little refresher after school, and then you’re all ready for homework in the evening. I actually love doing both.” When asked what her favorite school subject is Kaylee knew right away. “My favorite class is English, and I plan on majoring in English in college. I also love Speech.” Her high school English teacher has been a big influence. “I had Joni Mehus in both 10th grade and 12th grade English and she was my Speech teacher. She is a great person and an amazing teacher. I feel like I’ve learned a lot from her. I really love her as a teacher and I appreciate all that she has done.” On top of her academic and athletic workload, Kaylee is involved in many extracurriculars including Speech, One Act (first year 2020), band, Teens Nurturing Teens (TNT) and National Honor Society. Another award Kaylee won recently was the school’s AAA (Academics, Athletics, Arts) Award. Fillmore Central High School does the AAA Award every year and picks one girl and one boy from the senior class, and Kaylee Arndt was the female winner this year.
After winning the Heisman Scholarship, Kaylee has thought about what her future might look like. “I’m definitely planning on attending a four-year college or university. I am undecided where I’m going but I am applying to many colleges. I especially want to go to the East coast.” In her future she hopes to travel abroad someday. “I want to travel to Europe, especially England and Italy. It seems beautiful there and I would like to see the art.” She seemed especially excited about visiting England. “Some of my favorite authors are the Bronte sisters, and I want to go visit the Bronte Museum out on the moor, it would be amazing!” Keep on track Kaylee, you will be sure to succeed wherever you go.