Trenton Cochran (top photo), junior, came back a winner from the Kansas 6A High School Cross Country Championships at Rim Rock Farm in Lawrence this weekend. He was closely followed by Brian Beech, a junior from Olathe North, who finished one second behind Cochran at last week’s 6A Regionals, repeated his second place performance at Rim Rock on Saturday, and Olathe East junior Ben Kahnk, who took third at 6A Regionals, who was two seconds behind Cochran, also earned third at the 6A Championships in Lawrence. Submitted photos


Pete Logan
Special to The Gardner News
Some may not welcome the cooler weather Autumn brings, but not Trenton Cochran.
The Gardner-Edgerton High School junior cross country weather saw Saturday morning’s temperatures in the 40s and dazzling sunlight and knew the conditions had been drawn up perfectly for him at the Kansas 6A High School Cross Country Championships at Rim Rock Farm in Lawrence.
“Coach (Larry) Ward and I liked that it was a nice, cool day,” said Cochran of he and his head coach a day after Cochran ran to the Boys’ Individual 6A State Championship. “When the season started, he talked to us about setting time goals and asked us, ‘What are you wanting to achieve at Rim Rock at the State Championships?’ We talked about running a 15:45 on a really cool day. It was just perfect how the day warmed up with a low wind.”
The day’s conditions stood out in stark contrast to the conditions in Lawrence a year ago. At the same event in 2016, Cochran took 2nd in the state as a sophomore, but with a time of 16:31 on an almost stuffy September day on which the temperature at race time reached 77 degrees.
“Last year,” said Cochran’s father, Walt — an assistant coach for the Trail Blazer harriers, “everybody was drenched in sweat, including the coaches who were running around try to keep tabs on their runners.”
The cooler weather certainly suited the younger Cochran. Though a frost had developed on the course in the morning, by the time the Boys’ 6A Championship race began, earlier races and the warmth of the sun had turned the once hard course into a surface much springier for its contestants. It certainly worked to Cochran’s benefit, as he and only one other 6A competitor were able to break the 16:00 mark.
The younger Cochran also credited the game plan that Ward, his head coach, helped him develop.
“Coach Ward had a plan that I shouldn’t underestimate anybody in the field,” stated Trenton. “You don’t want to get yourself psyched out with so many talented guys in your race. We talked about sticking with the lead pack for the first two miles or three kilometers and then making my move. Then it was matter of putting enough distance between me and my competitors that none of them would try to catch me in a sprint down the finish. I think we were pretty successful in doing that.”
Indeed, a talented field did follow Cochran down the stretch run. Brian Beech, a junior from Olathe North who finished one second behind Cochran at last week’s 6A Regionals, repeated his 2nd place performance at Rim Rock on Saturday, while Olathe East junior Ben Kahnk, who took third at 6A Regionals — two seconds behind Cochran, also earned third at the 6A Championships in Lawrence.
Both generations of Cochrans were quick to credit Ward with helping Trenton record his championship finish.
“He’s spent so long doing this,” said Trenton of the Blazers’ head coach. “It’s amazing to be in his presence. He’s been coaching for 40 years and knows so much about the sport.”
“I was at the coaches’ meeting Saturday,” said Walt Cochran, “and many of the younger coaches were coming up to me and asking, ‘Are you loving coaching under Larry Ward? He’s amazing. Nobody coaches a taper like Larry Ward.’ I was a cross country runner in college and Ilearned more about cross country in three months with Larry Ward then I ever did in three years as a college cross country runner.”
Though Trentton Cochran will spend a few days appreciating his achievement and basking in the glow of his accolades, that time will — by Cochran’s own choice — be very, very brief. There are new goals to achieve.
“By tomorrow I’ll be done celebrating,” said Cochran on Sunday evening. “Then I need to get ready for the Nike Cross Country Heartland Regionals in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. There’s more work to be done. The target on my back is even bigger now. I need to be getting back to work. I’m not the fastest in the state right now.”
The State’s fastest boys’ time belongs to 5A State Champion Ethan Marshall at 15:38. In addition, Mill Valley will join the 6A class next year, and several Jaguar runners fared very well in the 5A finals.
Despite all the accolades and challenges, Cochran is doing his best to remain a teenager with a level head. That approach may be best exemplified in Trenton’s afternoon plans after winning the championship.
“After we were done celebrating,” said Walt Cochran. “Trenton still had to mow a lawn. So he spent the afternoon mowing Janet Dittemore’s lawn.”
Hey, State Champions need pocket money, too.