Kellie Cathey comes home

By John Hernandez

The Oracle Run was held Oct. 27, 2012 marking the event’s thirtieth year. The overall women’s record holder was invited to be the official starter of this year’s event.

She happened to be from Oracle and alumni of San Manuel High School, class of 1980. Kellie Cathey Archuletta lives in Las Vegas, Nevada now. She traveled to Oracle with her boyfriend Dave and mother Brenda.

Cathey does not run as much these days but in her running days, she was one of the best in the world. Cathey may be arguably the greatest athlete in San Manuel High School history or at the least the best female athlete.

Cathey’s competitive running began at San Manuel High School in 1977 when as a freshman she became a member of the varsity girls’ track team under Head Coach Fred Littau. Cathey said that Coach Littau used to keep the old dirt track in such immaculate shape that it was one of the fastest tracks in the state to run on.

Cathey started out as a sprinter and long jumper. She ran the 100 and 220 yard dash but when the girl that ran the 440 yard dash got sick with the mumps, Cathey was told by coach Littau she would be covering the event.

Her first time running the 440 in competition, she broke the school record.

She holds the San Manuel school records for the 100-yard dash, 440-yard dash; 880 yard and mile run as well as the long jump. Her sophomore year she started running cross-country.

She had gone to a running camp and had been told to concentrate on distance running. They said her legs were too short to be a sprinter. Mr. Gillingham was her cross-country coach.

“I didn’t appreciate it at the time but he was an amazing coach,” Cathey said.

Cathey would become a six time state champion. She won the 880 and mile run twice and the 440 and cross-country title once.

Her times in the 440, 880 and mile runs are 4A state records. They will never be broken as races are now in meters. Her senior year she was selected to compete in the Nationals in cross country.

Thanks to donations from people in the Tri-Community, she was able to raise enough money for the trip to Seattle, Washington. Collections were made by the San Manuel Elks Lodge, Rotary Club, teachers and coaches of San Manuel High School, Gardner Middle School teachers and Beta Sigma Phi sororities.

Cathey took second place at the Nationals becoming a high school All-American. She lost to a girl from Seattle running on her home course. The University of Oklahoma would be her next stop.

Cathey was offered an athletic scholarship from two schools her senior year, the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and the University of Oklahoma. The reason she chose Oklahoma was because of a San Manuel connection to the school.

Pete Kron, San Manuel High School Class of 1965 was an Assistant Track coach at Oklahoma. He came to visit her and her family to offer the scholarship.

According to Cathey, Kron’s mother sent him a Christmas package that had some old San Manuel Miner newspapers in it that was used to package the gift. There were some articles about Cathey winning some races and her run times among them.

Kron took an interest in her and called his old track coach Fred Littau. Kron was quite a track star himself. He still holds the San Manuel High School record for the shot put and discus.

Kron attended the University of Oklahoma on a track scholarship and then became an assistant coach for the throwing events.

At the University of Oklahoma, Cathey set a number of Big 8 Conference and school records. She would be a six time All American competing in cross country, 10K, indoor mile, 3-mile indoor and distance relays.

In 1980, she was the women’s indoor National Champion in the 3-mile run and in 1982; she set an American collegiate record for the 10,000 meter in a time of 32:22.5. As of last year, this was the fifth best time recorded in American collegiate history.

Cathey left school after her junior year to run professionally. Her parents, both educators were not happy with her decision. Cathey went back to school and finished her degree in business administration. She works for Palms Mortuary in Las Vegas in the business office.

After leaving school, Cathey moved to Fort Collins, Colorado to train. “This is where all the good runners trained,” Cathey said.

Between 1984 and 2000, she qualified for the Olympic Trials five times. She competed professionally on the road racing tour. In one race, she won $20,000. Her best year she won over $70,000.

She raced all over the United States and places around the world. Cathey holds the current race record for the Midnight Sun Run held annually in Fairbanks, Alaska. She set the record in 1987.

She was selected for and ran on six U.S. World Cup Relay teams. In 1988, Cathey was ranked number in the world for road racing. She appeared in Runner’s World magazine. Cathey placed in and won other running events including winning the Chicago Marathon in 1990.

Cathey said that when she ran in the Oracle Run back in the early 1980s, she was in great shape. She was living in Phoenix and training regularly. Coach Rick Glider challenged her to run in Oracle.

She took up the challenge and set the record that has held up over the years. She also beat Glider. Cathey said it was great to come back to Oracle.

“I am so glad I had the opportunity to grow up here,” she enthused.

Her advice to cross country and distance runners is to “train in a higher altitude” than what you normally run in.”

Cathey has a 20-year-old son named Charlie Archuletta. He is a promising jazz musician. He plays guitar and has played in a mariachi band.

Cathey is also a promising artist. She likes to paint with acrylics. She got interested in painting while traveling around the country and parts of the world where she was running.

This gave her the opportunity to visit many great art museums. “I have been painting off and on for awhile but was lucky enough to have a great Cornell trained teacher, Gabriel Hirsch who has taught me all kinds of great art things,” she explained.

Cathey said her favorite artists are Rene Magritte, Picasso, Van Gogh, Berne Hogarth, Charles Adams and Georgia O’Keefe. Cathey does portraits.

Some of her work includes some paintings called blue musicians, which are on display at Guitar Shack in Las Vegas. She also did a portrait of jazz guitarist Django Reinhart that appeared in the December 2011 issue of Guitar Magazines

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