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Cedar Rapids youth captures national cross country title

8th-grade Kenzie Reed doesn't see himself as just a runner

Kenzie Reed, an eighth-grade at Trinity Lutheran Middle School, runs to a victory at the national middle school cross country championships in October 2018. (Family photo)
Kenzie Reed, an eighth-grade at Trinity Lutheran Middle School, runs to a victory at the national middle school cross country championships in October 2018. (Family photo)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Most young athletes participate in sports because of the joy it brings.

Some are talented in a particular sport while others simply love competition.

Cedar Rapids’ Kenzie Reed is the latter group.

A natural basketball player, the long-limbed 13-year-old enjoys the challenge of being the best possible version of himself, better than he was the day before.

Reed has spent hundreds of hours in basketball gyms with that goal in mind.

When it comes to running, however, the answer is “none” for the amount of work he puts in before competing in race.

“I stretch and listen to music right before the meet, that’s it,” Reed said.

There are no late night or early morning runs to get into running shape. But his strategy, if you can call it that, is effective.

Just ask the 271 other runners who recently competed in the middle school national cross country championship. None of them can say their preparation produced better results.

Reed won the title, weeks after capturing the state crown ahead of another 176 competitors.

“I’m mostly worried about myself, but I am still aware of who’s behind me,” Reed said about his mind-set when leading a race.

Reed said he is not a runner or a basketball player.

“I’m an athlete,” the Trinity Lutheran eighth-grader said.

Also a running back and wide receiver on Trinity’s flag football team, Reed doesn’t limit himself in what he can do athletically.

“I wish we had tackle but all we have is flag,” he said.

“Everyone tells me I have a future in cross country but I don’t like it like that,” Reed said.

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A lot of this talk comes from his dad, former Cedar Rapids Kennedy basketball standout Shion Thomas, now a coach at Ankeny Centennial. His mother, Micah Janell, played basketball at Jefferson and Grand View.

“I’m trying to open his eyes to his potential in this sport,” Thomas said.

Basketball is Reed’s favorite sport and the one he believes he is “best” at.

Time will tell. He still is in his first year of being a teenager with a lot of growing to do. Long and wiry now, the sky appears to be the limit.

“Get to the national (basketball) tournament ... and win it,” Reed said of his goals for the rest of his school year.

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