At Sports in Kansas it is our obligation to highlight several senior student athletes across the state of Kansas over the next few months for their dedication, hard work and accomplishments in their high school career. In this edition we go to Coffeyville, Kansas. (To nominate a senior: send bio/why to: firstname.lastname@example.org)
I first heard of Larson and his interest in distance running when his parents and him showed up his senior year of high school to my Cross Country parent meeting. He had finished exceptionally well in track the previous year and had decided to change from a varsity position on the soccer team to running cross country. I was excited to have him. However, I did not realize the challenges he would push towards me. Larson is a quiet yet intensely driven young man. He would quitely let me know he needed more out of practices. His peers, who never really got very serious about winning, followed his lead. He would run with the team and then run more on his own, pulling some of the others out for 20 plus miles a week in addition to what we were doing together. He always is strategic in planning his next race, opponents, and getting stronger. Larson is very driven but also, I saw the joy running has brought him. He has overcome a lot this year with an early season injury and the loss of many senior year milestones because of the devastating virus gripping our nation. Even so, I see Larson daily running around the neighborhood, head held high, and I know his feet will be ready to carry him in his next journey. Larson is an exceptional young man.
I’ve been playing sports basically my whole life. I played soccer, football, basketball, golf, and baseball all throughout elementary school. In middle school I played soccer, basketball, and golf. My freshman year of high school I played soccer, swim, and golf. Sophomore year I started taking soccer extremely serious and ended up getting a starting spot on varsity. That year I also swam. My Junior year I once again played soccer, swam, and decided to run track. My senior year I had an extremely tough decision — play soccer or run cross country. I knew that if I ran cross country, I’d have a good shot at making it to state and maybe even placing at state, so I decided to give up soccer and put all my effort into cross country. I gave up swimming as well so that I could get into the weight room and train for track season.
Biggest accomplishment off the field/court?
My biggest accomplishment off the field or track is the marathon that I ran at the end of November. My teammate Christian Rodriguez and I decided to run the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa Oklahoma. I didn’t have much marathon specific training but since it was only a few weeks after state cross country I was in pretty good shape. I finished with a time of 3 hours 58 minutes and 22 seconds. The marathon was without a doubt the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, both mentally and physically. I had to push myself harder than ever and I dug deep into myself to find the strength to finish. I learned so much about who I am as a person during this experience.
What were your goals this season?
This year I had some very high goals. I wanted to run a 1:55 800m as well as a 4:28 1600m. Both of these would be school records as well. I also wanted to become state champion in the 800m and the 1600m. I knew that these goals were extremely high, but I had full confidence in myself that I would be able to accomplish them.
What makes you such a force as an athlete?
My biggest strength is how competitive I am. There’s nothing worse for me than getting beat. This mindset helps me train hard and keeps me focused throughout the entire year. I know that every other athlete is out there working hard, so I need to work even harder. Anytime that I’m feeling lazy, I think about how someone is out there getting after it. My teammates probably hate it because with me, everything is a competition and I don’t like to lose. If we’re on a long run, it’s “ I bet I can get up that hill faster than you”. If we’re in the weight room, it’s “I know I can get more reps than you.” The competition never stops with me.
What’s it like to play multiple sports?
Participating in multiple sports is a must for any high school athlete. I’ve learned so many useful skills in every sport that I’ve participated in. No matter what sports you play, you can always learn valuable lessons and skills. For example, I played golf throughout middle school and my freshman year of highschool. Golf is such a mentally taxing sport that I learned how to become mentally tough and how to get myself through situations that aren’t going my way. On top of the skills you learn playing different sports, you also meet tons of new people. The friends that I’ve made in this past year alone through running are some of my closest friends I have. There really is no downside to being a multiple sport athlete.
Explain the heartbreak it was like to hear that the senior season in sports is cut short?
It’s hard to put into words the emotions I was feeling when I found out that both the school year and the track season was over. The first things that went into my mind was how crazy my journey had been over the past year, as well as how I’d never get the chance to try and break the 800m and 1600m school records, or try to become a state champion.
Last year was my first season of track, and I only did it to stay in shape for soccer. As the season went on I realized that if I train hard and give it my all these next few months, I might have a shot at going to state. In those few months of training, I fell in love with the entire process. I loved how if you put in the work, you will get better and see the results you want. I qualified for state in both the 800m and the 4x800m. Before the state meet, my 800m PR was 2:10, but at state I ran a 2:05. After that race I knew I could do so much more. I knew that if I dedicated my life to this, that next year I could be a state champion. That day changed my life.
Every single day since then I’ve visualized what it might be like at Cessna Stadium on May 30th. I’ve imagined how hard it will be and how much it will hurt, but also I’ve imagined getting interviewed right after I won, stepping up onto the podium, and hearing “and your gold medal champion, Larson Hoggatt!” Those thoughts fueled me through the summer months of training, cross country, and the little track season we had. The thought of never even getting the chance to achieve these goals is heartbreaking.
Along with the track season being canceled, the rest of the school year was also canceled. This includes, prom, graduation, senior trips, everything. It's sad to know that the entire class of 2020 didn’t get the same opportunities as every class before us. We experienced our last day of highschool without even knowing it. I don’t think that this situation is fair at all, but I do think it's necessary. We’re in a situation that has never happened before and everybody is experiencing some sort of loss, just like me. I hope that the class of 2020 can make the best out of the terrible situation. If I’ve learned anything throughout this, it's to never take a normal day for granted again. I would do anything to have just one more day of high school.
This quote pretty much sums it up for me.
“Be proud of the work you have put into this journey, keep smiling and seek your next goal on the horizon to continue running in a smooth and positive way!” -Eliud Kipchoge
I am running cross country and track at Coffeyville Community College next fall, so there is nothing else to do besides start my base training for that. Unfortunately I can’t change the situation that we’re in so it’s time to move on and get prepared to excel at the next level.
What is your best sport?
My best sport is definitely track. The only reason I’m good at track is simply because of how much time I put into it. Naturally I’m not the best runner, but I have the dedication and passion to push past that. Running is mostly mental and I’m very tough mentally. I know how to motivate myself and get myself through terrible and painful situations. It is my best sport simply because I love it. I love everything about it from the training to the recovery and to the races.
What’s the atmosphere like to play/run for your school and town?
Playing for Field Kindley High school and representing Coffeyville has been an amazing honor. From rival soccer games against Independence, to the cross country course, everybody has my back. Everybody here respects what each other is doing and will root for them no matter what. Cross country is probably one of the most underappreciated sports there is, but I still felt a great sense of pride everytime I walked onto the course wearing purple and gold. I’m so happy that I get the chance to continue representing Coffeyville next year at Coffeyville Community College.
Who were other key players on your team(s)?
My entire cross country team was very influential and was extremely helpful throughout this process. Christian Rodriguez, Andre Caulkins, and Nathan Barrett were three of the best runners we had at Coffeyville. We all pushed each other extremely hard and trained together more times than I can even count. We held each other accountable and made sure that we were all improving every day. They were all so influential to my running career and I consider each of them my brother. They can all agree that I was oftentimes tough on them, especially Andre Caulkins. I wanted to push them and make them as good as they possibly can be. In return they would push me and always keep me in check. We were all so looking forward to doing big things this track season and I already miss spending every day training with these guys. They are all a huge reason why I’ve had success as a runner.
Favorite thing about sports you play?
The competitiveness of track is the number one reason why I fell in love with it last year. There’s nothing like running side by side with someone, both of you giving it your all to see who the better runner is. There’s no teams, no referees, no excuses. It’s just you and the other runners. There’s no ball, no plays, nothing. It’s so simple, you just have to run faster than the person next to you. But with its simplicity, it’s also extremely complex. Along with that I love the process of training and getting better. There’s nothing like training for months and months for one goal and finally achieving that goal. As much as track and cross country seem like an individual sport, they are both also team sports. The bond that I’ve made with the cross country and distance teams are ones like I’ve never had before. Suffering every day with a group of people builds a relationship like no other. I think every distance runner can agree with me when I say that the friendships I’ve made through running are ones that I will never forget. Another thing that I love about running is that it's very therapeutic for me. I don’t ever listen to music when I run, so everyday I have time alone. It's just me and my thoughts when I’m out running. This gives me a chance to solve any problems I may have or to have conversations with myself about any subject. Running is my therapy and it is how I learn who I am and who I’m supposed to be.
What is it like to play for your coaches?
It has been an honor playing for all the coaches I’ve had throughout the years. This past cross country season was a real journey with my amazing coach, Casey Woodward. She was named the SEK Cross Country Coach of the Year and she definitely deserved it. The most influential coach that I’ve had was my soccer coach, Courey Feerer. He has an outstanding resume, and when he took over the soccer program my sophomore year, he absolutely changed my life. He taught me what it takes to be a successful athlete and a successful person. He showed me how to have the fire that it takes to win and I can’t thank him enough for everything he has done for me. When I decided to give up soccer for cross country last fall, him and I had a very impactful conversation. It was an extremely hard decision for me to make but he understood and he was happy that I was going after what I really wanted.
How much preparation had you put into sports?
Before I started running track and cross country, I never really put my heart and soul into a sport. I practiced hard and tried to be as good as I can, but I never truly gave it my all. After the 800m race at state last year, everything changed. I knew that I wanted to be back next year and win, and if I was going to do that, I would need to dedicate my life to this. I trained hard all summer to build up my base. I gave up soccer because I knew that cross country would make me a much stronger runner and help me get prepared for the track season. I ran a marathon in November because I knew that if I could run 26.2 miles, then there’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to run 800m in 1:55. I trained hard both on the track and in the weight room all winter. I put in hundreds of hours and thousands of miles to prepare myself for this track season. I’ve kept a training log of every single run, workout, or lifting session over the past year so I would be able to see where I came from and so I could reflect on this amazing journey that I’ve been on.
What interest are you seeing at the next level and what are your plans?
Next year I will be running cross country and track at Coffeyville Community College. Since I don’t have the times or the experience to run at a higher level, CCC will give me the opportunity to train and get myself up to the level that I want to be at. CCC has one of the best track programs in the country and I can’t wait to start training and representing my hometown college. After CCC I hope to be able to run at a four year university and earn a degree in Dietetics so that I can become a Sports Nutritionist. I will continue to run competitively for as long as I possibly can.
Favorite thing to do when you aren’t playing sports?
When I’m not playing sports, I enjoy spending time with all of my friends. I think that life at its best when you’re experiencing it with all of your favorite people. This may sound a little weird but my favorite hobby, outside of running, is making memories. Making amazing memories that will last a lifetime is what life is all about and I’ve certainly made countless memories that I will never forget and I look forward to making new ones in the years to come. A few years ago I read a book called ‘Into The Wild’. It's an amazing book about Christopher McCandless and I highly recommend it. To sum the book up, McCandless sells everything he owns and hitchhikes by himself across the country and ends up by himself in Alaska. In the end, he learns that life is only worth living when you have people to share it with. I’ve lived with that mindset ever since I finished the book and it's one of the best life lessons I’ve ever received.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years I see myself working at a college as a sports nutritionist with my smoking hot wife and maybe a kid or two. I hope to be living in Oregon because I think I would love the weather there and I also love the outdoors. I plan to still be running, but I’m not sure exactly what it is I’ll be running. It may just be for fun and to keep myself in shape, but I will without a doubt be running for the rest of my life. Something I hope to do at some point in life is be a cross country and track coach at the high school level. I think that I have a great skill set and mentality to be a great coach for high schoolers. I love pushing people to be their best and I love the amazing feeling of watching someone you’ve trained with succeed.
Favorite subject in school, what type of student are you, GPA?
My favorite subject is anything that deals with nutrition. I love learning about how to properly fuel the body and how to maximize my athletic potential through nutrition. I really enjoy going to school because I love seeing all of my friends and teachers every single day. My favorite part about school is having intellectual conversations with my two favorite teachers, Mrs. Abbott and Mrs. Barnett. We have amazing conversations about pretty much any subject, from cloning humans to what it's like having a child to politics. I’ve learned so during these conversations like how to have an opinion on a subject and how to properly argue that opinion and even how to have a real conversation, since impactful conversations are so few and far in between these days. I was having some trouble answering what type of student I am so I asked one of my favorite teachers, Mrs. Abbott, and this was her response “I’m not sure there is like a 1-word answer here... I’d describe you as Personable and intuitive. You build quality relationships with your peers and teachers in addition to utilizing your strong natural skill set to produce quality work.” I have a 3.86 GPA, which is something that I’m really proud of because I’ve taken extremely hard classes throughout high school. I’ve taken several hard college classes including Calculus and Engineering Physics, so I’m very happy with my GPA.
Who is your role model?
My role model in running and life in general is Eluid Kipchoge. He is the greatest marathoner that has ever lived. The lifestyle he lives and his mindset and philosophies are all very intriguing and I urge everybody to look into him and his life. Eluid lives such a humble lifestyle and truly believes that no human is limited. No matter what difficulties I’m having or situation I’m in, I can look towards Mr. Kipchoge for guidance and inspiration.
Best place to eat in your town or the surrounding area?
If you’re from anywhere around Coffeyville you know that the best place without a doubt is El Pueblitos. They have some of the best quality food with amazing service that I’ve ever experienced. There’s not much food better than the La Prima with tortillas.
What would you say to the underclassmen out there right now reading this?
Although this may sound cliche, I would say to play every game or run every race like it’s your last, because it just might be. I was expecting to have my senior track season and that was when I was going to prove myself to the whole state of Kansas. Had I known that I would never run another race in high school again, I would have performed better and trained harder for both track last year and cross country this year. High school has been the best four years of my life so enjoy it while it lasts. Find what you love to do and give it your all.
Anything else to add?
I just want to make sure people know that they can literally do anything they set their mind to. A year ago I could barely run 5 miles, and now a 5 mile run is my easy day. I’m not the best technical or genetically gifted runner by any means, but I’ve put everything into this. I’ve spent more hours than I can even count into running, and because of that I’m seeing the results. I found something that I love and so I’m going to pursue that dream for as long as I possibly can. I hope to inspire people to go out of their comfort zone and put their heart and soul into whatever it is they are interested in.
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