SOUTH CHINA — Hard work and determination are always critical for any standout athlete, yet good genes never hurt either.

Kaylee Porter, a freshman at Erskine Academy, turned some heads at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B track and field championships last Saturday at McMann Field in Bath. Not necessarily because she won the 800 meters with a time 2 minutes, 29.68 seconds, but more for how she won the event. After a relatively slow first lap, Porter completed the second 400 in a blistering 67 seconds to win comfortably.

“To be able to close down 67 is something special,” Erskine coach David Currier, a former distance runner at the University of Maine, said. “She’s been a good surprise this year.”

Though this is just her second season doing outdoor track — she was on the Windsor Middle School team last spring — Porter has taken naturally to the sport. For part of that, she has her parents to thank.

Her father, Shawn, played soccer, basketball and baseball at Erskine before going on to play soccer at Thomas College. Prior to that, though, he was a national powerlifting champion in middle school. Her mother, Dee, was also a three-sport athlete in high school and played collegiate soccer at the University of Maine at Farmington.

“I started when I was in seventh grade with Gilly’s Gym (in Waterville) and went to the national power lifting championships twice,” Shawn Porter said. “One was down in Texas. I won down there in my weight class and I won the best teen lifter in the United States pound for pound for all weight classes combined. That was when I was in eighth grade.”

Kaylee Porter also played soccer and basketball this past academic year for the Eagles, but when it comes to track, she is still learning the technique to make the most out of her athletic ability.

“We’ve been working hard in practice and just listening to (Currier’s) advice,” she said. “How to position our arms, how to run, what the strategy is and it’s paid off immensely.”

While the additional knowledge has helped, her ability to close races — where those natural skills are most important — has set Porter apart this season. She said one of her favorite things about the sport has been that feeling of approaching the finish line neck-and-neck with an opponent.

“I love that thrill,” Porter said. “It’s like that thing in your head when you hit that last stretch and you think, ‘how bad do I want it?'”

Porter will definitely need a strong finishing kick this Saturday at McMann when she takes on Cape Elizabeth’s Eva Brydson, among others, at the Class B state championships. Her best time in the 800 so far this year is 2:28.93, which was good enough for first at the Capital City Classic on May 22, yet Currier has admittedly high hopes for her to shatter that.

“This weekend I’d like her around 2:22,” Currier said. “That’s the thing with her, she’s not super comfortable with the distance right yet. She wants to have people to run with.

“She’s not bold enough to press the pace. If the other girls in that race go 2:25 I fully believe in her kick.”

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

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Twitter: @Evan_Crawley