By Fred Liggett
Ask any avid runner and they will tell you all about their favorite pair of shoes. Whether itís just for a spin around the neighborhood or competing in a benefit 5K, all runners have a comfortable pair of shoes they love to use on race day.
Now try running in a competitive 8K race with just ONE shoe as one Leeís Summit native did earlier this month.
At the 2013 MIAA Menís Cross Country meet held recently in Pittsburg, Ks., Leeís Summitís Adam Volkert won the individual title on his home course finishing with only shoe.
This did nothing to stop Adam who finished with a time of 24:35:30 to win by almost a full ten seconds. Adamís time was his 2nd fastest in completing an 8K race. Volkert admits "Iím very pleased with my time."
All top ten finishers in the race earn ALL-MIAA honors for the 2013 season. Following the days events Volkert "had an awesome feeling" to do it on his home course and at the same time overcome "Laban Sialo a Kenyan who is tough to beat." Sialo who runs for Central Missouri finished second.
The conference championships were held at Countryside Golf course in Pittsburg, KS. Volkert feels the event coordinators did an excellent job mapping out the course.
Now, the story behind just one shoe. Just short of the 1K mark of this 8K race someone spiked the bottom of Volkertís shoe and it came of his heel. Just before the 2K mark he took the shoe off, then completing the remaining 6K with just one shoe.
The experience Volkert readily admits was "an uncomfortable one" as blisters began to form. At the end of the race he had two big blisters and limped around afterwards.
Do some research and none of this may have happened if he hadnít redshirted his 2012 cross country season.
He did this because he knew he would be around in fall 2013 to finish up his BS degree in Physical Education. Pittsburg State coaches felt having Volkert compete in 2013 would be good for both he and the team.
He is now set to graduate in December but will remain at Pitt State to pursue a Masters Degree in HPER. If things work out Volkert will be a graduate assistant next fall during cross country season. Some day he hopes to teach elementary PE and coach cross country/track at the middle or high school level.
Volkert has always enjoyed running and competed in 7th and 8th grade but was not good at it by his own admission. He was cut from the baseball team in his freshman year of high school. Later in his junior year Volkert came out for practice one day.
Then his senior year he competed and did very well as he took 3rd in the state in Class 4A the largest classification in Missouri.
With his success in his only year competing in cross country, college coaches began to notice his talents.
One of them was Pittsburg State coach Russ Jewett. Jewett according to Volkert is the best coach and has tremendous knowledge of the sport.
Volkert continues stating he appreciates the coach for being such a motivator and for telling it like it is. As for those young men who wish to follow in Volkertís footsteps he recommends they "Buy into the program from day one. Be committed to Coach Jewettís plan."
This plan certainly has worked out well for Leeís Summit native Adam Volkert who has a 2013 Menís Cross Country championship to look back on and to think the majority of it was accomplished wearing just one shoe.