This season turned out to be a learning curve for Grafton cross country runner Kyle King.
Without the help of older teammates, the senior was forced to switch his training regimen — despite winning the boys cross country state championship in 2009.
King — fearing the disappointment of not repeating as state champion — found his groove two meets into the season and rode it all the way to his second consecutive state Group AA championship, clocking a time of 15 minutes, 21 seconds for 5 kilometers.
King is the Daily Press Boys Cross Country Athlete of the Year.
"Ever since I took my first step across the finish line last year, my focus has been on you can't win the state title during your junior year and not go back and win it again," King said. "That would just be embarrassing. I knew that I couldn't expect anything less for myself, and that's how I approached it, as something that I had to do."
After finishing three seconds behind first-place runner Derek Armstrong of Western Albemarle in the Maymont Cross Country Festival, King found his 2010 stride during the Albemarle Invitational. The Clippers' captain notched his first victory of the season by 26 seconds and never looked back.
"Kyle thinks about races ahead of time, and he plans out race strategies and works hard to execute those race strategies," Clippers coach Robert Pierce said. "Yet he is a good enough runner that he can be flexible within a race and make adjustments as he has to."
King learned more than he ever would have thought about making adjustments this season.
"Overall, it was a different type of season, but I just had to figure out how to handle it," King said. "I got to know myself a little more than I had."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun