The leaders’ last race
By Jarann Johnson
Saturday will be an awkward day for the Hazen-Beulah cross-country team because it will the final race for two stand-out seniors. Kaylene Klein and Adam Becker will both be competing for all-state spots, but their places in the Beulah-Hazen program are irreplaceable.
Klein started running as a freshman and was one of those naturally talented kids who excelled at the sport. Originally, Klein came out for cross-country because her older siblings competed.
Despite being a natural, Klein has never settled at her natural talent level. She is always working to get better and brought that effort to each practice and every race.
Klein spoke about her cross-country racing journey.
“When I started, I guess I really didn’t have a goal in mind. I was just kind of there to run, it was something I wanted to do. There wasn’t really a goal to begin with. I was just there to run and as time went on with the coaches always encouraging me to keep trying harder – I just slowly kind of made goals,” Klein said.
“Then I started making sure I reached them, and now, it’s just been always trying to get better. Now, It’s my senior year and I have my set goals and that’s what I want to accomplish. I went in to cross-country not thinking much and now it’s a big part of my life.”
Becker also had a traditional path to becoming a strong program runner. Becker started running in seventh grade and trusted the program and coaches.
Becker originally didn’t grow much as an underclassmen, but once the 5-foot-11 senior started to sprout, the fast times started to come and he pushed his way into being Beulah-Hazen’s No. 1 runner.
Becker examined his running journey over the past years.
“Cross-country has been kind of wild for me. I went through elementary races thinking it’d be something I would do. Then showing up and having great runners above me like Calvin Aichele, Jett Hettich, and Brian Sitz – just all of the sudden I’m up there in the one spot, so it’s been a really nice journey. I hope to go next week and just run as hard as I can and do my best,” Becker said.
Both of these runners are also great leaders. Their styles are very different, but both somehow mastered the balance of leading without overpowering each other.
Becker is relaxed and approachable, showing a genuine interest in his teammates’ workouts and races. Klein supports and pushes her teammates to constantly get better.
The different styles work in harmony for the team. Both describe each other a little differently when it comes to leadership style.
Becker describes himself as a lead-by-example guy, and Klein as more of the motivational speaker.
Klein explained that Becker doesn’t layer on the motivation hoo-rah, but when he does speak, teammates listen.
“Adam has always been a really good runner, he’s always been a dependable runner. He’s gotten so much better over the years. As a leader he’s always been somebody that everybody has looked up to. Everybody looks to him for direction. He’s always been a leader for the cross-country team. Before this year Adam was somebody that everybody listened to. When he talks everybody listens, and a lot of the guys look up to him,” Klein said.