Kayden Harmon graduated last year with the class of 2019 at Orem High School. At the time of graduation, he had impressive personal records of 2:01.74 for 800m, 4:26.69 for 1600m, 9:46 for 3200m, and 15:52 for a Cross Country 5k. These times were very competitive at a high school level, but Kayden wanted to continue his athletic career to the next level: Division 1 NCAA Track and Field.
During his junior year of high school, Kayden reached out to some college coaches about the possibility of competing as a part of their team. At this time, Kayden had not yet cracked the 4:40 barrier for the mile. One of the college coaches he was speaking with gave him a time to beat in order to be considered as a recruit. That time was 4:17. Kayden wrote this time on a sticky note and put it on his bedroom door. Over the next year, he did everything he thought possible to get faster. It paid off when he ran 4:26 at the state championships. Unfortunately, that was almost 10 seconds slower than the standard he was given.
After graduating and realizing he hadn't signed anywhere, Kayden took a break from running. Like many athletes, he was frustrated by the idea that he could put in so much work and not be able to take his talents to the next level. He was not even allowed to train with the college teams. Every time he saw the sticky note on his bedroom door that said '4:17', he laughed it off thinking that it was too fast. His competitive running career was over.
In the middle of the winter, Kayden decided to start training again. No coach and no team. Just him and the road. He wanted to prove to the coaches he had spoken with that they were missing out on something big. Over the next 5 months, he increased his mileage, threw in some long runs at a fast pace, and ran some faster stuff on the track. He had no coach so he had to figure everything out on his own. He ran based off how he felt, gave himself time to recover, and tried running differently than he ever had. Kayden was grinding the miles while working two jobs. He was absolutely putting in the work necessary to become great.
Kayden finally decided to test his fitness on April 24th. He hadn't run a mile in nearly a year. After getting home from work the night before, he ate a big plate of pasta. The next morning he ate a small breakfast and played some games to take his mind off of the time trial. He went out to the track at 4,800 feet of elevation with Weber State's Christian Allen who was going to pace him on a bike, and off they went.
Kaydens first lap was a 61. That may sound fast, but he followed it up with a 65 (2:06). And then a 63 (3:09). He was putting all of his focus on the bike in front of him and staying with it. With 250m left, he was just grinding. He ran his last lap in 64 seconds finishing with an outstanding time of 4:13! He took 13 seconds off of his old PR and crushed his goal of 4:17! He cooled down and went home.
Kayden doesn't know quite yet what will come from this. This opens the door to many possibilities. But as of now, he is hoping to try some other distances including 3200m and 5k. His current goal for 3200m is 9:20. There is now a very real possibility that he can run at the Division 1 level.
Many high school athletes are worried about where running will take them. The 2020 Outdoor Track season has been cancelled and many athletes might not have a chance to show how fast they can really run. Not in an official meet that is. Kaydens story shows us that even if an athlete doesn't get recruited right after high school, college is still a possibility. It won't be easy and they will need to be patient, but there is plenty of time to prove themselves.