Sports Standouts: 10.19.16

backstroke bravado: t.j. halliburton
Ranked No. 1 in the state in the 100-meter backstroke, Chaminade senior T.J. Halliburton is chasing his first state title. A year ago, Halliburton placed second in his signature race to then-Vianney senior Nick Alexander, who won in a state record time of 48.99 seconds. “I want to get that record,” Halliburton says. “That’s what I have been working toward.”

Halliburton is well on his way. He just broke Chaminade’s pool record with a time of 50.95—his fastest without being shaved or tapered, which is when swimmers cutback on their workouts leading up to big races. The senior, who also excels in the freestyle and butterfly sprints, was one of only two swimmers in Missouri to win four medals in the 2015 State Meet. He hopes to swim at SLU next year under the guidance of his dad, swimming and diving head coach Jim Halliburton, who also coaches him on the Flyers Aquatics Swim Team.

“His dream has always been for me to swim for him, and it’s a program that is climbing,” says the younger Halliburton, who is ranked the No. 2 recruit in Missouri by “I would like to be a part of it. It’s also a good fit academically. I want to study sports psychology because I think the mental side of sports is so much more important than many people realize.”

The senior worked on the mental aspect this summer when he was sidelined with a lung infection due to complications from cystic fibrosis. He spent his time on dry land planning what he’d do when he was able to get back into the pool. When he was cleared in mid-August, he was more than ready. “I have been doing better than ever,” he says. “I know that everything I thought about and planned prepared me.”

Now, a state title and a state record would be a perfect cap to his high school career. “My dad was a six-time state champion,” he says. “I just want to at least win one to be something of what he was. He’s the one who taught me to love swimming.”

sportsdavissoccer sensation: kirsten davis
While it may be the offseason for high school soccer, Westminster senior Kirsten Davis is doing anything but resting. Last month, she was the lone Missourian among 26 players invited to the U-18 U.S. national team training camp in San Diego. “Not many from the Midwest get called up to camp, and it’s cool to represent the area,” the senior forward says. “I like the pressure. I’m the only Missourian at camp, and I’m doing my best to get back.”

Davis was called to train four times by U.S. coaches in 2015. The September invitation was her first of 2016 after showcasing her talents the past year with Scott Gallagher’s 1998/99 ECNL team. She was determined to make an impression at the San Diego camp, and it worked. Soon after camp ended, she was invited to join the U.S. U-18 team in Ireland for a tournament later this month. “I love going to those camps because you’re surrounded by players who are all participating at a high level and who have the same goals you have,” she says. “I love the atmosphere it creates.”

While Davis’ immediate plans after high school are to play at Texas Tech, her ultimate goal is to find her niche on the U.S. women’s national team. She wants to represent the U.S. at the 2018 FIFA U-20 World Cup in France and eventually join the full national team. Those aspirations started a few years ago when Davis was training with the Australian national team. During sixth through eighth grade, her family lived in Sydney, Australia, because of her father’s job.

“My time there completely changed how I viewed the game,” she says. “It made me realize I wanted to play at the highest level. The training there was very technical. I would spend hours in my backyard by myself just working on my technique. You have to be willing to put in the work when no one is watching. It will pay off.”

sportskohringtalk to … gabi kohring
A year after missing most of the season with a stress reaction in her right tibia, Webster Groves junior Gabi Kohring is making up for lost time. She won five of her first six cross country meets this fall and recorded a personal-best time of 18:51 at the Hazelwood West Invitational.

Q | How would you describe your season so fa r?
A| I just wanted to have the best possible one and recover from that awful season last year when I was hurt. I want to medal at State but have fun with it at the same time. It’s so easy to get bogged down with the competition. I’m just happy I’m running this whole season instead of biking it, like I had to last year.

Q | What is your training routine like?
A| We have scheduled workouts on Tuesdays and Thursdays where we could be running up to 8 miles total each day. Then, on resting days we run 4 miles. Sometimes on the day after meets, we run 6 miles to recover.

Q | What motivates you to get better each week?
A| My parents taught me that when you find what you love, pursue it with whatever you have. Pour your soul into it. I try to do that with cross country. My teammates are positive and inspiring, as well. Each time I see them working hard, it makes me want to do more.