Northeast High School senior Austin Bogina was the fastest of 71 boys at the Regional Class 3-2-1A Cross Country Meet last Saturday in Burlington, and now winning the state championship this weekend at Wamego appears well within his ability.

Northeast High School senior Austin Bogina was the fastest of 71 boys at the Regional Class 3-2-1A Cross Country Meet last Saturday in Burlington, and now winning the state championship this weekend at Wamego appears well within his ability.

The 5-9, 135-pound runner traversed the five-kilometer course in 16 minutes, 57 seconds — almost a minute faster than the second place contestant, Cole Meyer of Wellsville.

Training year-round while also competing in basketball, baseball and track, Austin was second at the 2009 state cross country meet and said Tuesday that his main competition Saturday will probably be western Kansans Collin Trickle of Minneapolis, who beat him last year, and Joel Allen of Hillsboro.

Bogina clocked 17:02 last year and hopes to be under 17 minutes this time on the 3.1-mile course. His best times in the mile and two-mile are 4:37 and 10:10, and he’s undecided about the offers of college scholarships he’s getting.

Asked if he had intended to have a fast start in Burlington, he said, “No, that was just how I felt — to take out and see what I could do.

“I don’t think about a race before I run it. I don’t like running it through in my mind. They’ll be good at state, and there will be a sleeper that nobody knows about. My strategy is run fast. I’m going to go out and try to stick at the front.”

With his aunt, Piper Richardson, coaching him in cross country and track at Northeast and his mom Tracey working as the track and cross country coach at Fort Scott High School, Austin doesn’t lack for guidance.

His progress has been gradual, running all summer, lifting weights, building stamina and increasing speed as he grew and got stronger, finishing 10th in the state cross country meet as a freshman and eighth as a sophomore until reaching the elite level last year.

Bogina’s sister Kaylee is an eighth grader who plays volleyball and basketball, runs track and plays softball. His dad Greg farms near Arma.

Coach Richardson was somewhat surprised to see him go out so fast last Saturday but was delighted to see him steaming home so far in front. “An Osage City kid went with him at first, but when Austin went into the woods 600 meters out, he was 20 meters in front,” she said.
“He just went out and ran by himself.”

Richardson said Bogina always had good stamina but had to work to improve his speed. “He put in a lot of mileage last summer and lots of hard workouts,” she said.

“This is what it’s all about. There is not a kid who works any harder and does more on his own, and it’s paying off for him this year. He wants to win it and be at the top.”

Bogina was fourth in the mile and seventh in the 3,200 at last spring’s state track meet.

James R. Campbell can be reached at james.campbell@morningsun.net.