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KIRTLAND — Kashon Harrison is keeping his distance pushing ahead of the pack, all while going the distance.

Kirtland Central’s star runner is currently atop the state qualifier leaderboard in the 4A boys 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs, eyeing back-to-back state titles in both events next weekend. 

Harrison (4 minutes, 20.52 seconds) has a 7.15-second advantage over Albuquerque Academy’s Justin Hickey (4:27.67) in the 1,600. Harrison also qualified for state in the 3,200 at 9:13.48, 16.33 seconds faster than second-place Duncan Fuehne (9:29.81) of Los Alamos.

“Every other day, every other week, every other month, I’ve been training so hard. All this mileage I’ve been putting in has paid off,” Harrison said. “I’m in the best shape of my high school career right now.”

Harrison continues to conserve his energy for the last stretch of longer races, pulling ahead the last turn before the finish line.

Harrison, who already has four district titles, two state titles and two third-team All-American honors in cross country, also takes on that mentality competing in shorter races like the 800-meter run during last weekend’s Bloomfield Invitational, which merely serves as extra conditioning for himself.

He also just got his latest 15-mile run in on Tuesday to ensure he stays fully conditioned for the big stage.

And Harrison keeps making sure his short-burst speed and his longer-stride speed are sufficient so he will be ready to pull ahead every time, mindful not to underestimate his competition.

“It feels great to be at the top, but anyone can be at the top and the same place as me,” Harrison said. “I’ve just got to find someone else who’s willing to take that challenge trying to run with me. Or once I’m gone, I hope someone can take that spot.”

Harrison welcomes the challenge, because it keeps driving him to push his own limits.

He’s driven to keep his place at the top, and to keep ascending even after he starts the next chapter of his career running for NCAA Division I University of Colorado.

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

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