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A roster chock full of young athletes looking to make a name for themselves doesn’t seem like it would be an ideal fit for an incoming freshman.
Zak Kennison would disagree.
Kennison, a standout distance runner at Los Alamos High School, was one of two graduating seniors from the Hilltopper cross country and track program to sign his National Letter of Intent today. Kennison inked with Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction to run with the Mavericks.
It wasn’t an easy decision for Kennison, who placed eighth individually at the Class 4A cross country championship race this season.
In fact, it took a lot of introspection for Kennison as to whether he wanted to run at the collegiate level at all. However, he decided that things seem to go along much more smoothly when he’s training and competing than when he’s not.
And the decisive victory his team took at the state cross country meet really sealed the decision for him.
“We had a really successful year,” he said. “We didn’t make it to nationals. We were a little bummed about that, but it was a great experience. Building bonds with my teammates was fun.”
The Division II Mavericks compete in one of the toughest running conferences in the country, the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. The Maverick men finished 10th at the RMAC championships this year and advanced to NCAA regionals.
For Kennison, he will be joining a team with just one senior departing from the 2012 squad and has as many as seven runners returning for their sophomore seasons. He will also compete for the Maverick track team next spring.
While some might worry about getting lost in the shuffle, Kennison said he wants to be a part of a program he feels is on the upswing.
“I think I’m excited for it,” he said. “It’s a growing program. It’s a fresh program. It would be cool to help build the program, get it up and going.”
Kennison got connected with Mesa through a friend, Peter Schultz, who attended the school. Kennison made two visits to the campus in Grand Junction, the most recent just last week, and said he very much enjoyed his time there.
While he hasn’t picked a major yet, he’s seriously considering engineering, but said that kinesiology caught his attention on a campus visit there when he was strapped to a treadmill and fitted with tubes and wires.
Along with being one of four Hilltoppers who cracked the 4A top 10 this season, Kennison finished in the top 10 in 4A in both the 1600 and 3200 meters at the state track meet.