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Jul 19, 2022

Colts Neck’s Kylie Jacoutot Falls in Love with Sport She Once Hated

By Tim Morris

Colts Neck’s Kylie Jacoutot found a new event this spring, the 400-meter intermediate hurdles, and has quickly become one of the state’s best.

Kylie Jacoutot has had a roller coaster of a relationship with track and field.

“I hated the sport. I used to cry before meets.” Those tears of sorrow, Jacoutot remarked, have turned to “tears of joy” for the Colts Neck High School sprinter/hurdler who emerged as one of the state’s best 400-intermediate hurdlers and all-around sprinters this spring.

“It was at the Monmouth County Relays last year when something just clicked,” she remarked. “That’s when I thought, ‘I really like this sport,’ and I started prioritizing it.”

Before things clicked last spring, Jacoutot was in love with another sport: soccer.

“Ever since I was 5 and started playing it, I wanted to play soccer in college,” said the Cougar junior. She started running in middle school as a way to stay in shape for soccer. “I was pretty fast on the soccer team.”

She would run the 100- and 200-meter sprints in middle school and stayed with track at Colts Neck while still playing soccer.

Her freshman year was interrupted by the pandemic, and it wasn’t until last year, her first full season at Colts Neck, that she learned how really fast she was. Jacoutot excelled at the 200- and 400-sprints and ran a leg on the Cougars’ championship Central Jersey Group III 4×400 relay team.  She even got to travel with her teammates to Eugene, Oregon for the Nike Outdoor Nationals where she earned All-American recognition as part of Colts Neck’s 1,600-meter Sprint Medley Relay Team that finished third (4:04.58). She joined Grace Suhocki, Isabella Marcinkiewicz and Lilly Shapiro on the other All-American Team.

This spring, Jacoutot went to another level in the sport when she started running the 400-meter intermediate hurdles, perhaps the most demanding event in track. It took some persuading from the Cougars’ coaches for Jacoutot to take it up in the first place. She admits she can be stubborn when it comes to changing events.

“I’m the type of person who is afraid of failure,” she said.

Comfortable at the 400, she was reluctant to try a new event that she might not be good at. She needn’t have worried. She discovered it’s the event best suited for her. Jacoutot explained that she learned that strength, not pure speed, was her edge. She pointed out that in running the 100 and 200, she noticed that just as she reaching top speed, the race was over. When she moved up to the 400, she found greater success and even greater when strength plays a bigger role as in hurdles.

“I picked [the 400 hurdles event] up quickly,” said Jacoutot, who started off running the 55 hurdles indoors to work on the event’s technique. “I had more strength than the others.”

Colts Neck sprint coach Kevin Hein never doubted that Jacoutot would excel at the 400 hurdles.

“Kylie’s a great athlete,” he pointed out. “She’s a perfect blend of strength, speed and aggressiveness. She’s a real talent.”

The talent surfaced quickly as Jacoutot won her first 400 hurdles race at the Monmouth County Relays. Her time, 1:05.98, was fast for any time of the year, but as a first timer, she revealed real potential. It didn’t take long for her to rank with the best in the state. The Cougar junior continued to lower her personal best and school record while winning the Monmouth County (1:04.48) and Shore Conference (1:04.28) championships. In winning the Central Jersey Group III title, the Cougar turned in one of the 10 fastest times in the state, 1:02.62.

To succeed in the 400 hurdles takes more than just strength and speed. It requires pushing yourself through pain.

“I had to go out fast and keep it going to the end,” Jacoutot said of her approach to the race. “The last 100, it’s going to hurt.”

At the sectional, Jacoutot ran second in the 400 in 58.40 and anchored the 4×400 relay team to victory (4:04.88).

Still learning navigate jumping over 10 hurdles while running flat out, Jacoutot sees herself running even faster as she gets her steps between hurdles down.

“My first time I was stutter stepping over all the hurdles,” she explained. “I’m learning to switch lead legs [clearing the hurdles] which will help getting faster.”

Jacoutot comes from an athletic family. Her mother, Shari, was a swimmer and soccer player at Susquehanna University while dad Tim Sr. was a NJSIAA state champion wrestler at then Madison Central High School (now Old Bridge). He went to be a four-time All-American and three-time national champion wrestler for the College of New Jersey. Kylie’s brother, Tim Jr., ran the 400 hurdles at Christian Brothers Academy and Monmouth University. Kylie followed in the footsteps of her older brother who also played soccer and ran in middle school. When he didn’t make the varsity soccer team, he ran cross country for the nationally ranked Colt harriers and then the 400 hurdles for the track team.

Kylie will close out her high school soccer career next fall, but it’s no longer the sport of her choice for college.

“I just changed sports on my [Next College Student Athlete] profile to track,” she reported. “I want to do this in college.”

Colleges will be just as interested in having her run for them.