Track and Field Runner Kiera Cutright Makes a Comeback at RSC Championship

Written By Virginia Garner, News Photo Editor

After taking photos of herself in an edgy-yet-trendy outfit for her Instagram account in the afternoon sun in Village Park, Point Park University sophomore Kiera Cutright talked about wanting to run a fashion blog one day. Her goal is to be able to land brand deals, partake in collaborations and engage her audience to make a name for herself in the fashion world on social media.

But for the Women’s Track and Field team, Cutright’s best running takes place on the track. 

After running on the team since August 2019, by September 2020, Cutright began feeling overwhelmed with her schoolwork, personal life and track and field. Practices every day, Monday through Friday and ‘on your own’ practices on Saturdays, left Cutright feeling as if she had no time for herself or her personal growth. Her mental health was declining, so she decided to take an indefinite hiatus from her sport to focus on balancing every facet of her life. During the break, she maintained a healthy work out schedule of going to the Student Center gym and going on runs at least once a week. 

That hiatus ended abruptly when her coaches asked Cutright to return to the team and run in the River State Conference Championship, on Saturday Feb. 20. Cutright helped her team secure first place at the RSC Championship in Logan, Ohio. 

The West Deer native was first spotted by the former Point Park track coach in 2015 at an invitational meet, kicking off her journey with the university. 

“At an invitational, my high school coach came up to me and said, ‘This guy wants to talk to you’ and it was the Point Park track coach at the time. He told me I was really talented and wanted me to run with him.” Cutright said. “I originally didn’t want to run in college. I had planned on going to fashion school. Two years later, he offered me a scholarship, and I decided to take the offer to make college a little easier. Originally, I wanted to go to Kent. I got into their fashion program and was so excited, but the out-of-state tuition was ridiculously high.”

Cutright entered Point Park University’s Women’s Track and Field Team competing in her best event, hurdles, along with any other events her coaches needed her to compete in, such as the 400-meter dash. Specifically, her best events include 400-meter hurdles indoors and outdoors, 60-meter hurdles indoors and 200-meter indoors. 

At the most recent RSC Championship, Cutright won fourth place in the Women’s 400-meter dash with a time of 1:07.29 minutes. 

The broadcast and media management major began her running journey after noticing her abilities in her later elementary school years. Cutright attributes her early running talents to soccer, having played since kindergarten. 

“During field days in elementary school, I would win all of the races and I was like, ‘Wow, I’m fast,’” Cutright said. “I wanted to add another sport so in the seventh grade I joined my middle school’s track and field team.”

Her middle school’s team was small, so small that they didn’t even have their own practices. They would run alongside high school students, an intimidating feat that allowed Cutright and her teammates to push themselves into high school level running. Upon entering the ninth grade at Deer Lakes High school, she joined the varsity track and field team.  

Cutright’s main event during her high school career was hurdles. Guided by her assistant soccer coach, track coach and mentor Stephanie Schneider, she worked her way to the top, becoming one of the best runners in her district. 

“She knew she was good, but she stayed humble,” Schneider said. “Her losses pushed her to be a better athlete. That’s what sets her apart from other athletes.”

During her junior year, she started to lack confidence in her running abilities, but soon gained it back after winning a district event. 

“I didn’t think that I was going to do well because I wasn’t that good, and I just ran the event as I normally would. I knew one of the girls I was up against, she had won years in a row, it was her senior year and she was expecting to win,” Cutright said. “We were getting ready to finish the race, and I remember running past her and looking back, not even realizing what had happened. Then I finished the race and I looked at my mom who was waiting at the finish line and she said, ‘You just won!’ and I didn’t believe her at first. I was so shocked but proud of myself.”

Point Park track and field head coach Jim Spisak feels that Cutright gives back to her team and provides much needed positivity and light. 

“She is very enthusiastic, she has just a good energy to her whether at a practice or at meets. It’s infectious. Track can be difficult and having that energy is a great thing for the group,” Spisak said. “She’s a likeable person. I believe that she will grow to fit into a leadership role for our women’s team as her mentorship skills evolve.”

COVID-19 cut the track season short in 2020, rendering it impossible for the team to complete their outdoor season, which begins in mid-March and ends in early May. Cutright and her coach look forward to their first outdoor season in the coming weeks. 

“Her best event is the 400-meter hurdles outdoors,” Spisak said. “Because of COVID, we didn’t get to compete outdoors last season. We are excited to see what she can do this outdoor season.”

Besides track and field, Cutright’s passions lay in the fashion world; one day she would like to become a fashion blogger and make content surrounding her love for streetwear fashion trends. Running can be a lot to handle mentally, but her adoration for fashion keeps her going, along with support from the friends she’s made through her sport. 

“I’ve made a lot of friends through track and field. Honestly, my favorite part is the people,” Cutright said. “Like, I hate running. I get through it from the support from my friends and teammates.”