Brock Doherty, Peyton Cranson, Ava Warner and Josh Bell who would have otherwise competed in football and volleyball, came together to form the 2020 Kim Mustangs cross-country team.
In the absence of fall sports Branson/Kim Athletic Directors Cassidy Lucero (Kim) and Brad Doherty (Branson) worked to give student-athletes options for fall athletic competition. Offering golf and cross-country to high school athletes looking to try something new.
“I was glad our AD (athletic director) Cassidy Lucero was able to get a season going, it was nice having that temporary replacement, because we weren’t sure if we were going to have a football season or not,” said Head Coach Adam Lucero.
“It was a quick season” he continued, “we didn’t get into very many meets because we weren’t even sure what was happening.”
The Kim Mustangs appeared at three meets during the cross-country season, all three hosted by the Rocky Ford Meloneers.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s early fall safety protocols allowed for participation in distanced outdoor sports like cross-country with safety adjustments to minimize transmission of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“We had to social distance from every team and always wear a mask, and as soon as we lined up we lined up about five feet apart or so, and as soon as they blew the whistle we tore the mask off and we were on our way,” said Cranson.
Bell, a senior at Kim said, “We had to wear masks all the way up to the line, and after the starting gun shot off, and then we had to roll our mask up on our arms. As soon as possible after we stopped running, we had to put our masks back on.”
The cross-country season primed Doherty, Cranson, and Bell for an abrupt start to their football season, which started a day after their final meet.
“I was really doing it for conditioning for football” said Bell, “we ran a whole lot, we ran more than I have ever ran in my life, and we just kept running and ran until I didn’t want to run anymore.”
“It was awesome at the time it was our main sport as far as our four athletes went because they didn’t have another sport. They were able to compete and really just try hard at a sport, it’s better than sitting around not doing anything so I was really proud of our athletes.” said Lucero.
The Kim team competed in the Colorado 2A region three cross country meet on Oct. 9, held in Rocky Ford. Warner and Doherty arrived on a still, warm Rocky Ford morning, for the regional championship.
A 5:15 a.m. departure began Doherty and Warner’s 120 mile journey (one way) to the cross-country meet. These early mornings are common for athletes looking to compete out of the Kim/Branson area, who, according to Doherty manage the travel time with naps on the bus.
“The weather was almost perfect for a cross country meet, and when I ran it was just the right temperature,” said Doherty.
“When it was time to race, the officials put us into heats and then we started running,” Warner said, “It was pretty intimidating with many big schools there with some pretty fast runners.”
Mistakenly put in the third heat by officials, Doherty left the starting mark looking to catch the runners that left in the second heat just moments before.
“By the end of the race I finished first from all of the people in the third heat and passed about eight people from the second heat even though they started at least two minutes before I did,” he said.
Doherty finished the three-mile race in 19:42.50, a personal record, putting him 34 in the Region. Warner finished the regional meet placing 37, running a 29:22.70 three-mile.
“I liked being able to try something new this year, and I had actually wanted to do cross country before, but it conflicted with football. So, in a way, the temporary cancellation of football opened a door for me to try something new,” said Doherty, “I liked doing cross country and might do it again in the future if it doesn’t conflict too badly with football.”