The first installment of the 2017 high school graduating class brings us former New Berlin star athlete Kahlil Wassell. Kahlil wrapped up an outstanding prep career in which he won several state Class A sprint titles as a junior. Wassell was knicked up a bit during his senior campaign but rebounded well at the end of the season and racked up three silver medals in the 100, 200, and 400. Now an inspiring freshman at the Harvard University, Wassell was kind enough to share his first semester of college life.
Let's fall back to your senior of high school. After coming off of a record breaking junior season you ran into some injuries during your senior season. What was your frustration level like when you did not accomplish all of your goals?
Kahlil Wassell: While the injury may have frustrated me initially, I used it as fuel for the season and recognized that I needed to do whatever I could with the injury, so I went out and did my best, so while it was frustrating I recognized that I couldn't let that discourage me and I needed just to do my best with what I was given. It has given me fuel in my freshman year to do even better than before and see what I'm capable of.
As one of Illinois' most popular track & field athletes last year we were able to follow your athletic and academic prowess through social media. How difficult was it to decide on a college and how did you arrive at Harvard University?
KW: Deciding on a college can be very difficult and is one of the most nerve racking points in your life. It wasn't too difficult for me though. Once I had gotten into Harvard my search was essentially over. I loved the coaches, the team, and the educational opportunities Harvard would give me access to, so that made my decision.
Can you summarize your first semester of college for us?
KW: My first semester of college has been a lot of work. Between balancing academics track and a social life I don't have time for much than to eat and sleep. Ultimately it has been a growing experience and I have learned a lot about proper time management.
What is the biggest difference and similarity between Springfield IL and Boston MA?
KW: The biggest difference is the diversity of the population and the fact that Boston is a big city. Springfield is a largely homogeneous community and Boston has a collection of many different types of people which has been particularly eye opening.
What are you majoring in and what is career path over the next 5-10 years?
KW: My planned major at this point is Mechanical Engineering because I don't have to declare until my sophomore spring in still deciding. I could end up doing applied physics or Electrical Engineering. If I stick with Mechanical Engineering I would like to work for NASA or SpaceX.
How have you worked to adjust your time between academics, athletics, and social time?
KW: It has been a big adjustment. It can be hard to find the balance initially but you will get the hang of it. The hardest part is understanding that you can't do everything and realizing that you may have to forego hanging out with friends to get an assignment done if it's urgent. A tool that every college freshman needs is a calendar it will help you organize your time so much better.
What are your goals on the track freshman year?
KW: My goals for my freshman year are to make Heps, which is the Ivy League championship meet, in the 100 and 200, and at indoor heps I hope to run the 60 and the 200. I also hope to place at heps in each of these events. Another goal of mine for later in the season is to make the NCAA championship meet.
What advise would you give any tremendous student-athlete looking for the right fit for school and athletes?
KW: I would tell a track and field athlete to first think about academics of the school and if it fits your academic goals, because studying is what you are going to be spending a lot of your time doing, and also the point of going to college is ultimately to get a degree. As far as team fit goes, I would tell them to try to get in touch with the other admitted track athletes and see if you get along because these will be people you spend a great deal of time with. In addition them to make sure they like the coach because you will be in contact quite frequently as well.