TUALATIN — Kate Intile wasn't always a runner.
She had other likes and other interests.
In fact, for awhile, soccer was her thing.
But, she could run. And other people noticed.
Coaches, her parents, her friends — they all thought she should be a runner.
So, finally, Intile decided to give serious running a try.
She liked it. And, well, she took off and ran with it.
She kept running — faster and faster — during her four years at Tualatin High School.
"It was so much fun," said Intile, who graduated from Tualatin High School on Saturday. "All of my best friends ran cross country. And it's fun to be a top athlete in high school. Everyone knows your name."
Intile wasn't only a top athlete at Tualatin High School, she was one of the top high school runners in the state, especially during her final two years with the Timberwolves.
But that didn't come without hard work.
"The big thing about Kate is her work ethic," Tualatin girls cross country coach Chris McIsaac said. "She's willing to put in the extra work. She does all the little things, whether it's running, or working in the weight room. She has a lot of diligence. She gives 100 percent in everything she does."
And it shows.
As a Tualatin senior, the honors piled up for Intile. She earned a spot on the podium at the Class 6A state cross country championships. She then claimed a spot on the award stand at the Class 6A state track and field championships.
Now, Intile has another honor, as she's been named the Times' Athlete of the Year from Tualatin High School. The honor goes to the top senior-class athlete, as seen by the Times, at the school for the 2016-2017 school year.
"It was a fun year," Intile said. "Mixing cross country and track and school (she took a full International Baccalaureate work load) was tough to balance, but it was worth it."
"She's just a cool, nice person," McIsaac said of Intile. "It was fun to get to know her, and see her improve so much."
A running start
Intile's introduction to running was simple enough.
"I did some 5Ks (5,000-meter runs) with my dad when I was young," she said. "But I liked soccer. I did soccer, basketball and track when I was in middle school."
And, by track, she's not talking about the distance running events.
"I did the long jump and shot put," she said. "I did anything except the distance events."
But that changed.
"I did some more 5Ks, and I liked it," she said. "And I loved cross country. When I went to Hazelbrook (Middle School), my parents wanted me to get into cross country. One of the coaches there pushed me to give up soccer and concentrate on running. I wanted to play soccer in high school, but I decided to do it. It turned out to be a good thing."
It certainly did.
Going the distance
Once in high school, and deciding that running was her thing, it didn't take Intile long to take to cross country.
"It's my favorite," she said with a smile. "All of my best friends do cross country. (Tualatin senior-to-be, and fellow runner) Madi Lowry is my best friend. I love the whole team thing, the camaraderie of being in the same race."
As a freshman, Intile ran to 13th place at the Pacific Conference district cross country championships.
As a sophomore, Intile took 13th place at the Three Rivers League district cross country championships. St. Mary's Academy dominated that race, boasting the top seven finishers.
But the hard-working Intile, and the Timberwolves, made sure that the Blues' dominance would be challenged the next year.
"I came in three years ago (prior to Intile's sophomore season), and she was the top runner then," McIsaac said. "I looked for someone to become a leader, and she was that person. And she's been an awesome leader. She does a lot of little things that a leader should do. She organized a lot of events for the girls, and gave them hair ties, and things like that."
With that leadership, and a lot of hard work, the Tualatin girls stepped up — in a big way — during Intile's junior cross country season.
St. Mary's won the TRL district meet team title that year, by just one single point over the upstart Timberwolf squad.
Intile, after finishing 13th the prior two years at district, ran to victory in the 2015 Three Rivers League district meet, winning the 3,000-meter race in a time of 18 minutes, 46.04 seconds.
"That was my biggest accomplishment," Intile said. "The year before, I was 13th, the next year I was on the podium at state. I trained all year after sophomore track season, and that got me going."
As a Tualatin junior, Intile earned a spot on the Class 6A state meet podium, finishing in seventh place.
But, maybe even more importantly to Intile, the Wolves gained a bit of revenge on their St. Mary's rivals, placing sixth as a team, while the Blues were seventh.
"It was nice to match up with them, and get them at state," Intile said with a smile.
Intile then turned up her workout routine even more going into her senior year.
"I had to get up to run, or lift weights, at 6 or 6:30 (a.m.) every day before school," she said. "It turned out to be fun."
And it paid off.
One of the highlights of Intile's senior cross country season came back on Oct. 1, when she ran to victory at the 43rd Stanford Invitational, held at the Stanford University Golf Course in Palo Alto, Calif.
"We earned that trip," she said. "We did a lot of fund-raising, and we wanted to do well."
The Wolves competed in the Division 2 race.
"It was good competition, and a hot day," Intile said. "I didn't know what to expect. I didn't know the course at all, I was just going to go out there and race."
Intile was in a battle for the lead throughout the race.
"I stuck with this other girl at the front," she said. "Chris kept yelling 'you should go,' so I took off. It was fun and exciting."
Intile ended up winning the 3,000-meter race in a time of 18:02.30. Cagnei Duncan, from Bakersfield, Calif., was second at 18:30.70.
At this past fall's Three Rivers League district meet, Intile ran to second place, trailing only St. Mary's senior Laura Rix. The Blues also won the district team title, with the Wolves finishing second, meaning both teams would go to the Class 6A state meet.
Intile would go on to run to ninth place at the 2016 state championships, again gaining a spot on the award podium.
"We all finished well and raced hard," Intile said of the Wolves' performance at state. "It was a little nerve-wracking, but it's always a fun meet. Overall, it was a good experience."
On the right track
Following her senior cross country season, Intile took two weeks off, and then it was back at it, as she looked to get ready for her senior track and field season.
"We started our winter training," she said. "We all ran together. We called it the 'Winter Wolves.'"
Intile put in the extra work as she prepared for what she hoped would be a big senior season.
"I knew I wanted to do well, and that I was fit enough, but I was nervous," she said. "And I hadn't chosen a college yet."
Intile didn't get off to the best start to her senior track season.
"I didn't run any PRs (personal records) for a real long time," she said. "It was kind of frustrating. But, a couple races before district, things just kind of clicked."
At the Three Rivers League district track and field championships, Intile finished second in both the 1,500 and 3,000-meter runs, with Rix winning both of those races.
"Laura and I would always duke it out, back and forth," Intile said. "She's fun to race against."
Intile would also help the Tualatin 4 x 400 relay team, which included senior Kennedy Oleson, junior Makenna Bailey and Lowry, place second at the district meet.
In the first day of the two-day Class 6A state track and field championships, held at Hayward Field in Eugene, Intile finished in 11th place in the 3,000.
"It's not my strongest race," Intile said. "But I still got a PR."
And it also gave her some added motivation for the second day at state.
"I always wanted to place at state," she said.
And she did, as she ran to sixth place in the 1,500 in a personal-best time of 4:41.16.
"That was a super-tactical race," she said. "And it was an odd race. No one wanted to take the lead, but it was fun, and I was happy with it."
In the 4 x 400 finals, Intile helped the Tualatin team finish in sixth place.
"We had a lot of fun with that," she said. "It was nice to be there as part of a team. It was a fun race, but, after the first 200, I was really feeling it in my legs."
A lot of support
Be it on the cross country course, or on the track, Intile knows that she'll have her own personal — and loud — cheering section in her parents, Joe and Donna Intile.
"My mom and dad are at every race, and they're the two voices I hear the most," Intile said with a laugh. "They're so supportive. They'll leave notes in my lunch box, and my dad somehow gets to the same spot at every meet. We joke that he's more sweaty than I am, with all of the running around that he does."
And, Kate Intile says, that support helps a lot.
"It means so much," she said. "My parents always encourage me to do my best. They're good at helping me make running a priority, but letting me know that it's not everything."
Intile added that her older siblings, Joseph and Kelly, also have given her plenty of support, as has McIsaac.
"He's the greatest coach anyone could hope for," Intile said. "I talk to him the most. His policy is amazing, and his door is always open."
Where the Buffaloes roam
Prior to the end of her senior track and field season, Intile did get her college choice set, as she signed a national letter of intent to run cross country and track for the University of Colorado, located in Boulder, Colo.
"I'm super excited for it," Intile said. "I took a visit there, and loved it. I just loved the area. It's a cool town, with cool trails."
Intile is one of four incoming freshmen for the Colorado women's cross country team, including Olivia Brooks, from Summit.
"It's going to be all new, but it's going to be all fun," Intile said.
"I think she's going to do really well," McIsaac said. "She's a fairly young runner. She didn't start training full time until after her sophomore year, and, if you want to be the best, yo have to train for it."
There's probably no worries about that, after all, Kate Intile is a runner now.