High school runner Rookie Maize becomes a cross-country star

Maize junior Kaleb Glazier was the biggest surprise of the cross country season as the freshman runner became one of Kansas' top runners.

Maize junior Kaleb Glazier was the biggest surprise of the cross country season as the freshman runner became one of Kansas’ top runners.

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It’s not uncommon for inexperienced riders to experience immediate cross-country success.

But he’s rare to be as successful as Maize junior Kaleb Glazier, who immediately became one of Kansas high school’s top runners in his freshman year in the sport.

Glazier’s meteoric rise as a top runner came as a pleasant surprise to Maize’s cross-country coach, Skeeter Rankins, who is entering the AV-CTL division. I’m racing in league this Saturday at Wartick Farms.

“I thought he would be there with my other top guys and those three would pack up and take turns as the lead runner, Rankins said. “I didn’t expect this. Kaleb is what I would call a legitimate number one runner and probably the first we’ve had (in nearly two decades) since Alex Umberger.

“I would say it’s hard to surprise me, but he definitely surprised me this year.”

Rankins paid tribute to current Maize athletic director Aaron Leichner, who had been the district’s college athletics coach and noticed Glazier’s talent in running.

With some convincing from Leichner, Glazier finally decided to give running a shot and joined Maize’s track team last spring. Indeed, it was an immediate success.

“I didn’t really know what I wanted to do in track and field, so I tried long distance and found I was pretty good at it,” Glazier said. “From there it was like why not try cross country.”

Glazier was stunned when he won the season-opening JK Gold Classic in a time of 16 minutes and 6 seconds, which beat a field that included several of the region’s most experienced top riders by 13 seconds. Wichita.

“Kaleb had never raced a cross country meet in his entire life, so I didn’t know what to expect,” Rankins said. “Next thing you know, he jumps another 5:12 mile and leads the pack and I think, ‘What’s going on here?'”

It wasn’t a fluke. The following week, he cut his time to 15:48 and won the Emporia Invitational, then raced some of the state’s best in the Gold Division at Rim Rock and walked away with a sixth-place finish.

He also won the Bishop Carroll Invitational, giving him three wins in the first four races of his career.

“I thought I was going to be pretty decent, but not that good,” Glazier said. “I got shocked.”

Glazier’s success has also given Team Maize a boost, which has traditionally relied on a pack mentality to succeed in races. The Eagle still has that with senior Zach Johnson also a consistent medalist with runners like Alex Ayin, Micah Schmidt, Caiden Unruh, Conner Fortin right behind him.

The junior is excited to see how much success he can have individually and with the team in his first cross country playoff. Rankins has been in the sport for decades and he has praised his rookie.

“His talent is matched only by his work ethic and his desire not to want to be beaten,” Rankins said. “He’s probably one of the most mentally strong kids I’ve ever been around, myself included. The only guy I know who’s as mentally strong as he is is Alex Umberger and he was state champion You combine all of those things and you have the makings of a kid who could be quite special.

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