Veteran Kirtland Central runner eyes district three-peat

Race scheduled for Friday at Lions Wilderness Park

Matt Hollinshead,
Kirtland Central's Kashon Harrison,wearing red and black sunglasses, takes off from the starting line during the Kirtland Ridge Run Friday at Kirtland Elementary School. Harrison won the boys race in 15 minutes, 45.60 seconds.
  • Kashon Harrison won the Kirtland Ridge Run last week.
  • Harrison has been working on improving his acceleration and his start.
  • Coach Lenny Esson says Harrison has a very high tolerance for pain.

KIRTLAND — Kashon Harrison doesn't let anything hold him back from a big race, even the early signs of a head cold during last year's District 1-5A championships.

"It's just all in the mind," the Kirtland Central cross-country star said. "Sometimes when you feel like your legs are a little tight ... it just goes away. I just like to take the lead and hold the pace. I just believe in myself that I can do it, and I just try to have that mentality to stay up there."

Harrison has an insatiable drive to be the best runner on the course. And after improving his kick off the starting line this last year, he eyes a three-peat in Friday's District 1-5A championship at Lions Wilderness Park in Farmington.

"I like to control the race and try to speed up a little," said Harrison, who also won last Friday's Kirtland Ridge Run boys race.

Harrison's acceleration continues to improve, and he's developed a strong sense of the kind of speed he will face in opposing runners. 

He's better able to identify whether he must really push himself early on or if he can distance himself from the competition toward the end.

Harrison also keeps working on speed training to ensure he averages at or below five minutes and 10 seconds per mile during races.

"Sometimes, I just stay back and hold it until the last mile, just take off from there," Harrison said.

As Harrison's endurance has reached new levels, he's become more tolerant of something else.

"He can endure a little more pain than the other runners there," coach Lenny Esson said. "Last year, he took it upon himself to go out there and just want to beat everybody. He's done workouts to where he nearly runs himself into exhaustion... Kashon just has more tolerance for more pain."

Going forward, Harrison said he wants to be able to preserve his kick during the final mile without getting gassed out by that point.

He doesn't want anything to hold him back from being atop the leaderboard.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.