Running with Wings
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The screams of the crowd deafened the audience, echoing around the stadium at Norris Penrose Equestrian Center. It was the blood-thirsty yells of parents, friends, and coaches egging on the athletes the last 200 or so meters of the grueling 5k race.
But this wasn’t just any race. This was state championships.
The cheers only increased when a pack of girls ran around the corner, the two in front five, ten meters apart. The girl in 7th place, Kasey Klocek, hit the edge of finish chute and began her kick, closing in on the girl infront of her. Passing her friendly rival Addi Iken, hailing from Golden High, Kasey finished her race undeniably strong, coming in 6th place in state with a time of 19:27.6.
Klocek is a freshman at Green Mountain. She joined Cross Country over the summer and took to it like a duck to water. “Coming into the team, I never felt alone, I felt so welcomed. I wasn’t hated, and that’s the first time I’ve felt that way on a team. I could just be myself and just be free,” she said.
Previously, she had run only three local 5k’s, in soccer and middle school cross country programs, and Hershey’s, a sort of intense running club that hosts their own meets and participates in local ones. But despite how prepared she was, her ability to run tough and fast garnered surprise and praise quite quickly. “I expected to be like 3rd or 4th on the team. My goal for the year was to get into the 20s,” she stated with a hint of laughter.
From the very first meet, Kasey shot off like she had wings attached to her heels. She came in first on the team in the Arapahoe Warriors Invitational and firmly rooted herself in that position for the rest of the season. She swept the Jefferson County League meet on October 13. A week later, she was state-bound, having raced to first place in 4A Regional Championships, dropping just six seconds shy of an entire minute off of her previous personal record, her new one now standing at 18:09.1. Her coach, Coach Boston, remarked, “It’s not unheard of, it is unusual, to have an freshman or an athlete this young who ranked or have that high of expectations going into state.” But Kasey is definitely something special.“She’s just a strong mental athlete,” Boston said.
With such favorable results her freshman year, Kasey has some high expectations to rise up to. Her coaches and team believe that sometime in her high school running career, she will be able to become a state champion. It is indeed, to put in Kasey’s phrasing, “big shoes to fill.” But there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that she will go far. She still has a ways to go on her journey, but she will have support from coaches and her team throughout it all.