MARIETTA — Since moving to Marietta from Comanche, Kaelyn Dobbins has been attached at the hip with Mandy Sykora.
MARIETTA — Since moving to Marietta from Comanche, Kaelyn Dobbins has been attached at the hip with Mandy Sykora. The duo have been best friends for a couple of years now, and they have laughed together, won state titles together, and cried together when the occasion called for it. On Wednesday morning inside the Marietta High School gymnasium, they began the next chapter of their athletic careers the only way they know how: together. Both Dobbins and Sykora each officially signed their National Letters of Intent to run next fall at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, Arkansas in front of a crowd consisting of friends, family, and their coaches. “I feel like I’ve been waiting for this moment for eight years now,” Sykora said. “I’m so excited and I just can’t believe where I’m at today because of running, this just feels amazing. Going to Arkansas Tech means that I’d get to be apart of a building process for the team, which I think I’d really enjoy helping build the program into something bigger. Mainly it was because of Coach (Brock) Hime, because he just seems like an amazing coach and I can’t wait to start running for him.” During her time at Marietta, Sykora added to an already historic legacy that was first set for her by her sisters. The Lady Indians standout managed to be apart of three state championship teams in the last four years, including ending her career with a back-to-back victory this past October. Syokra has also been an individual state champion in both track and cross country, as well as being named the All-Ardmoreite Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year for the Best of the Arbuckles Preps during her career, along with numerous track medals from state for Marietta. “Seeing all these people here to watch me sign made me feel so special,” Sykora said. “I know all my teammates are going to be in great hands next year which makes me feel very good.” “Kaelyn and I joked that if we weren’t able to sign with the same school that it would be alright,” Sykora added. “Now that it’s actually happened, we’re both super excited and ready for the next chapter of our lives together.” As for Dobbins, she quickly made her own mark on the Lady Indians track and cross country programs as she accumulated her own wealth of state medals, and team titles. During her short time as a Lady Indians runner, Dobbins got to be apart of two state championship teams for cross country, as well as winning individual medals at state for both XC and track. Dobbins was also named last years Best of the Arbuckles Preps Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year. “This is just something I’ve always worked for since I started running,” Dobbins said. “I knew we were capable of doing well when I came to Marietta, but I never thought we’d accomplish everything we have with the state titles, school records, and everything we’ve achieved.” “You always know about the legacy, but it didn’t sink in until we looked down at the table this morning,” Dobbins added. “We were like ‘Woah we have a lot of stuff!.’ That made me feel very special though seeing it sink in like that. Arkansas Tech had everything I wanted in a school from academics to athletics, so once I saw they had everything I wanted the choice was very simple for me.” Making the moment even more special was an appearance by now former Marietta XC and track coach Matt Appleman, who was in attendance for the signing. “It was definitely very important to have Coach Appleman here today,” Dobbins said. “He’s the reason why we’ve had the success we have had, and to have him here meant everything.” “I told Appleman that he better show up today,” Syokra said with a laugh. “It was so important that he came today because I owe him everything with my success so it was very special to have him here.” Sykora said her preliminary choice of study at Arkansas Tech is digital marketing and business management, while Dobbins said she plans on getting into the business data analytics program and possibly minoring in accounting.