Heart of a Panther, Leader of the Pack.
Kalen Barlow’s journey to Austin.
“Never forget the feeling.” Were the last words said to Kalen Barlow as he ended his 2018 Track season. He missed the mark crossing in fifth place for both the 3200 and 1600 meter races, when top four head to regionals. Missing the mark is hard to swallow, even as coach. Kalen would go to regionals that year, only to watch from the stands, cheering on his teammates, with those four words lingering in his head.
His Journey to the top, started on the bottom. Coming in as a shy, timid, and untrusting eighth grader, Kalen would work his way to the top; there is no secret to our training..teamwork and hard work, is how he arrived in Austin May 11th.
Barlow joined the track team his eighth grade year, he was an average runner. Nothing spectacular, except along with his teammates, he had the opportunity to help train Kase White, (3rd in the 3200 & 4th in the 1600 at State that year). Kalen trained for weeks after his last eighth grade race, two of those weeks were actually done on the Longview Track, due to construction at Spring Hill. He came to the Spring pep rally, wearing the “Chase your Dreams” shirt along with his other four teammates, as they wished Kase good luck at state. Ironically, that was the start of Kalen’s own quest to “Chase your Dreams”. That following summer he trained as all runners did, putting in the miles and even attended a Cross Country camp with team at the end of the summer, yet he would find himself on JV to start the season that year in Cross Country and fight for Varsity as track came, yet he would find himself Area and Regional bound at the end of his freshmen year. All those miles and hard days of training had paid off, the group once again rallied together to put in the work as they would enter their sophomore year.
His second year as a varsity athlete left him with high expectations to achieve. It was this year that he not only had to learn to “own” his training, but to lean and depend on his teammates. With his coach out numerous weeks throughout both seasons, practices and meets became more difficult. For the first time, the shy and timid sophomore had to learn to lean on his teammates and “own” his training. However, he was still young and the team still had a lot to learn. Ending their 2018 track season with heads down as all wanted more, but nobody wanted it more than Kalen Barlow.
This past summer is where is all changed. I cannot be certain if he remembered that Area race, as I did. Or if even recalled it. However, he began to chase his dream like never before after that meet. Refusing to take off, and internally made it known that the feeling of not giving your all, would never happen again. Yet, the remarkable story about Kalen Barlow isn’t just how he refused to settle, or accept that his dreams are unreachable. It was how he not only transformed his own heart and mind, but the team. Kalen was not a team runner, prior to 2018. He was too shy to talk to others and too timid to question anyone, and as far as trusting others he was still learning how to do so himself. But it is always the unlikely of circumstances that make or break us. And for Kalen as hard as it was to cheer on teammates at Regional last year, it makes his road to state all that more special. He defines the heart of a panther. With integrity and determination, guiding him mile for mile (which he has ran over 4,000 since his high school career). And models leading the Pack. Kalen is a soft spoken young man, more concerned with his actions speaking then his mouth…and believe me there is no other way it should be. He has lead our team to qualify for state in Cross Country, run for personal best…race after race, and cheers on all those behind him. There is no secret to Spring Hill distance, Kalen Barlow has proven that it’s not workouts that set us apart. It is our heart and pack that propel us all to success’ far beyond what we even believe is possible. His story gives hope, to anyone with a heart and team. Sometimes our biggest moments are not the victory that molds us, but the defeat that inspires us to reach what we think is unreachable.
Kalen Barlow….let’s chase YOUR DREAMS!!