Senior Lake-Lehman cross country runner Kieran Sutton headed into the final stretch of districts with a chance to do something he had never done – break the tape first.
Sutton won the race with a time of 18:36, avenging a second-place finish to Dallas' Dominic DeLuca in the Wyoming Valley Conference championships, this time leap-frogging DeLuca by 9 seconds.
His accomplishments this season earned him The Times Leader Boys Cross Country MVP honors.
(Districts) were on the side because I was focused on states, Sutton said. But, it is kind of nice because I never won districts before. I was three seconds off in eighth grade; it's nice to win it once.
Sutton carried the momentum into the state meet, where he finished fifth in a time of 16:30.
It felt relieving because it was my last chance to get a medal in cross country, Sutton said.
According to Sutton, he noticed about halfway through the race that finishing in the top 10 was a legitimate possibility, and with a final push, cracked the top five.
I wanted to get out and not get stuck too far behind, but I worked my way up to the top pack by at least a mile, Sutton said. Once I got up to the elite pack and we started to separate, I just tried to hold onto them as long as I could.
Sutton was a second-team selection by The Times Leader in 2011. But he improved his times by an average of a minute and a half since last season by training vigorously in the offseason, leading the Black Knights to a fifth-place finish at districts – their best finish in his time at Lake-Lehman.
Over the summer, my goal was to run 500 miles, Sutton said. I probably ran about 520 from June through the end of August.
Once practices began, Sutton improved his time by running intervals and increasing the difficulty, and credits his coaches and teammates for pushing him to become even better.
My coaches help us to work our hardest and help shape our workouts around what will help us best, Sutton said. My teammates help make it fun and keep it relaxed.
Sutton may have reached the finish line in his career at Lake-Lehman, but is looking to run cross country in college and study computer engineering. Sutton has Shippensburg, Elizabethtown, Temple and Pittsburgh on his list of potential schools at this time.