Cameryn Spence brushes off the thought of having to run hills at cross country practice. It’s no problem.
“It’s one of our easier practices,” he confidently said Monday afternoon.
Spence is not your average runner. He’s also not your average freshman. This is all relatively new to him.
In middle school, Spence used his speed to his advantage on the football field. Now, as a first-year runner for the Bearcats cross country team, he’s turning heads.
“He’s unreal,” cross country coach Rachel Carlson said. “I don’t even know how to describe him.
“The very first day of practice he shows up and says, ‘I’m going to run with Kenny (Kenyion Townsend).’ I looked at him and laughed and said, ‘No, nice try . . . I dare you to.’ And ever since then, he’s been running with him.”
Townsend is one of two seniors on this year’s boys team for Douglas. His reputation as a member of the cross country team speaks for itself. He’s placed in the top-10 at meets seven times during his four years as a Bearcat and set a personal best of 17:53.1 at the 2016 state championship. He’s also finished first two times in three meets thus far this season. And with Spence now on the scene for the Bearcats, Townsend is doing his best to pass the torch on to the future of the program.
“It’s been fun,” Spence said when asked about learning from Townsend. “He always helps me in practices. When we have our tougher ones, he always tells me to keep up so that when he’s gone after this year, I’ll be better and be able to push those kids that are coming up.”
At the first meet of the season in Buffalo Aug. 25, Spence finished third. A week later in Gering, Nebraska, he significantly improved his time and set a personal best of 18:02. He placed second.
In Sheridan this past weekend - host of the state meet - Spence took 19th. As the varsity boys’ race began, the wind picked up for the first time all day and stuck around throughout the entire race. Spence didn’t waver.
“It was tiring,” he admitted.
Despite his lack of experience, Spence is always trying to challenge himself. It’s part of the reason why he has earned the “unreal” description from his coach.
In a way, he has helped the Bearcats excel due to the fact that other younger, less experienced members of the team are also stepping up to push themselves.
“Every kid in every aspect is saying, ‘I’m going to run with the kid ahead of me. If Cam can do it, I can do it.’” Carlson said. “It’s natural what he does. It has excelled our team and even though we’re young, these guys are going to be good the next few years.”
“It was probably the best meet we’ve been to competition wise because we got to see a lot of 4A schools,” Carlson said about last weekend’s meet in Sheridan.
Split between junior varsity and varsity races, the boys team placed 11th out of nearly 20 participating schools. Townsend finished 10th with a time of 18:10.12. Spence finished two spots back in 12th in 18:17.18.
For the girls, who took 10th, Jaylynn Boe crossed the finish line first for Douglas in 19th with a season best of 21:41.71. RayAnne DeLuna and Jenny Porter also set season bests and finished 32nd and 45th, respectively.
Coach Carlson noted that the majority of the team set season best times in Sheridan.
“We needed a race like that,” she said. “A lot of the kids use that race as motivation. It’s a good checkpoint to see where we are.”
The next meet of the season for Douglas will be Sept. 15 in Torrington.