Caralyn Broyles is reaching for the sky.
That’s because this defending Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation girls cross country champion from Waimea High School, also known by her peers as Cadet 1st Lieutenant, has aspirations to become a jet pilot.
“I wouldn’t find being in an office as a suitable job for me,” the 17-year-old said. “I’m the adventurous type. If I had a choice, I would want to be a jet pilot.”
She’s visited the Air Force and Naval academies and earned top honors — the Iron Michelle from the Naval Academy and the Most Physically Fit Female award from the Air Force — after completing the candidate physical assessment screenings. The screenings consisted of fitness tests such as the shuttle run, a one-mile run, push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups and a basketball toss drill.
The Kekaha teen has no other military connection other than her grandfather.
“Personally, I just want to go to the academies,” she said. “I like the military structure and I’m a real patriotic person.”
A member of the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corp at Waimea for the past three years, Broyles led a team of girls to a win at the Waianae Adventure Challenge on O‘ahu.
She has also been a part of Kaua‘i County’s record-setting Junior Lifeguard team — which has won five consecutive state championships in a row. Broyles was a member for two of the past years.
That, cross country and running track has helped her prepare for whatever physical demands the military may have for her.
“Cross country keeps me in shape. It gives me a benefit and I train in the offseason,” she said.
In previous years, her biggest competition for cross country was Kaua‘i High School’s Chelsea Smith-Wishard. But with Smith-Wishard at Pepperdine University, last year Broyles was able to take control of the league and win her first KIF championship.
“It meant a lot. I was really excited,” she said. “Training so hard, I know it made my coaches proud. It was a really big accomplishment for me.”
Coach Rod Martin has coached her in long distances since Broyles’ freshman year.
“She’s always had a strong mind as far as perseverance is concerned,” Martin said. “She’s an excellent student and athlete and involved in ROTC. She’s a hard-working kid and has been like that since I’ve known her.”
But Martin and the coaches knew this year would be a challenge for her.
“We wanted her to realize she’d be working alone out there. She wouldn’t have anyone there to really challenge her and she’d have to keep up her level of effort if she wants to compete at the state level.”
Last year, Broyles finished 41st out of nearly 200 runners with a time of 22:10.15.
“The top 20 get medals and we reminded her of that. She needs to step it up and work harder to make her goal and that’s what we want for her,” Martin said.
And that’s what she wants, too.
She set a few goals for herself in this final season for her.
“I set a goal for myself to do my best, to break 20 minutes and to finish in the top 20 of the state,” she said. “I haven’t (broken 20) yet, but this last race, I think I have a chance.”
This weekend’s KIF championships will be at the Island School course, a course she feels comfortable running. Her best time of the year so far is 20:41.77 at her home course in Waimea.
“The hardest course I had this year was at Kula. I have a longer stride and for hills you need a shorter stride. And they had a lot of hills,” she said.
Still, she feels her goals are attainable.
“What keeps me going for cross country is my coaches and my parents. They really push me and support me,” she said.
Aside from preparing for the championships, Broyles is the president of the Spanish Club, the Remote-Operated Vehicles club and the vice president of the Leo Club.
Broyles also is currently working on her nomination packets for the academies. She will go through the interview process before the congressional nominations will be released.
Saturday’s championships are scheduled to start at 9 a.m.