By Amanda Carney
More than 8,000 miles from home, Andrew Kibet is one of Hutchinson Community College’s top cross country runners.
Kibet, a freshman, grew up in Eldoret, Kenya a total of 8,440 miles from his new home in central Kansas.
Hutchinson, was a place for Kibet to explore his dreams.
“I was excited to come to a new place, but it’s hard, with the U.S. being so big,” Kibet said.
Growing up, Kibet came from a town – and a country – of long-distance runners but ended up playing volleyball in high school at Kitany Secondary.
When asked if he missed playing volleyball, Kibet said with a smile, “Not much.”
Kibet thought about coming to the United States to study and compete, but never thought about running long distance, like cross country. Many men’s college races are 8,000 meters, or nearly five miles.
“I’ve never thought of running distances,” Kibet said. “I grew up mainly running the 1,500 and 800. This was the first cross country (race) I ever did.”
Kibet did not take long to adjust to distance running.
“Track is speed and (cross country is) endurance,” Kibet said.
Kibet also knows that his success, and the Blue Dragons cross country team, wouldn’t be as good without the help of his teammates.
“It’s a great team,” Kibet said. “I can’t do it alone. It’s about teamwork. It’s the most perfect team when it comes to training.”
Coach Justin Riggs has been impressed and for good reason. Kibet won the Terry Masterson Twilight Classic at Fun Valley Sports Complex, and he also won the Missouri Southern State Stampede, while finishing second at the Fort Hays State Tiger Open.
“Andrew has been good, really good,” Riggs said. “He’s worked really hard and is also naturally gifted. Where he grew up, the altitude and training was at 7,000 feet, that makes a big difference. It’s a blessing.”
The Blue Dragons will compete next on Saturday, Oct. 27 at the Region 6 Cross Country Championships.