Senior Runner Competes At Regionals In Honor of Injured Teammate

Joshua Smith, Managing Editor of Entertainment and Editorials

Running over open fields and down the last grassy stretch, the finish line emerges into sight. His eyes hover over the mass of people as he searches for the person that he is really running for, until he finally catches his best friend’s eye.  It gives him the last bit of motivation to conquer the monumental task he set for himself at the beginning of quarantine. Even though he has found success, the situation is bittersweet, for after checking his times, it is confirmed–he qualified to region without his best friend and running mate.

The story of Jaycob Kenney and Colton “CT” Taylor during this year’s cross country season season is much like that out a Disney movie. Taylor was slated to be one of the best runners in the state, and Kenney wasn’t the best runner on paper, but enjoyed running as a pre-season workout before track season.  Then, a harsh reality was faced when Taylor was injured in a basketball game.  At first, it was devastating to know that three years of training wouldn’t end in a season of victory. Then, he decided to do the next best thing–support his best friend to do what he couldn’t.   

“At the beginning of quarantine, [Colton and I] didn’t have much to do, so we just decided to work out,” Kenney said. “Monday, Wednesday and Friday we would wake up at five in the morning and we set up a work out plan and that is what I would run. It was a goal of both of [us] to get to region this year, since we both started [together] as freshman we thought it would be pretty cool if we could achieve that our senior year side-by-side.” 

The training that Kenney and Taylor underwent was not for the faint of heart to say the least. It consisted of incredibly difficult workouts three or four days a week that would tire even conditioned athletes. They trained so that Taylor and Kenney could succeed together in the field, not apart. This is why  Taylor maintains a leadership position even after injury, for it was impossible for any one member to fill the hole he left, but Kenney stepped up so that the team as a whole could remain successful. 

“Jaycob Kenney is a wonderful success story because his is one of perseverance and a never-say-die attitude, not letting a temporary setback prevent him from achieving his goals,” cross country coach Christopher Grotemat said. “He just put in the work and stayed ready so that when it was time for him to take a much larger role he [could.]” 

During the second week of school, CT began experiencing pain.  He saw a specialist and found out that he had osteitis, and it would force him to miss the remainder of the cross county season.

“[Taylor’s injury] was something that we weren’t going to dwell on, first because it isn’t fair to CT but it definitely isn’t fair to the guys that are up and ready to go,” Grotemat said. “We took a collective responsibility and Kenney was really the catalyst behind that charge. We saw his times improve almost exponentially overnight, there was no question after that first race without CT who the next man up was going to be.”

Even while the success that Kenney is facing is new, it’s not for no reason. The training that Kenney had done with CT gave him the confidence that he needed to succeed. Kenney was able to compete at the regional competition in Dallas, Texas as the two had hoped.  

“I just pushed him and pushed him until I gave him [the] confidence [to become] a really good runner,” Taylor said. “He leads the team now like I led the team. He’s worked really hard and has handled all of the success and failure with class.”