With commencement now just days away and his duties as a high school student athlete largely in his rearview mirror, Alex Kenish has his sights firmly set on the next stage of his career, which will be written at the University of Akron.
Following his four year journey of skills sharpening with the Olentangy Orange program, Kenish appears more than ready to make his mark in the Mid-American Conference, but that doesn't mean this was always his plan.
"Coming into high school, I wasn't intending on participating in any sports," he said. "Prior to high school, I had never even run before, but thanks to the encouragement to get involved from my coach, Adam Walters, I joined the track team and eventually developed a love for competition," Kenish said.
He got that initial taste of competition back in the spring of 2017 by contesting a barrage of tri-meets and quad-meets, but over time, and with a lot of help from his teammates along the way, he'd prove to be a contender at major invitationals, as he developed into one of the leaders of the Pioneers squad.
"Sophomore year really sticks out to me, as I had the best training group I could possibly ask for. I was pushed every day to get better and this led to a big improvement in my times," Kenish said.
Those times he's referencing include a 4:23 effort over 1600 meters at the OCC Buckeye meet and dipping under the 2 minute benchmark in 800 action at the Olentangy Invitational, where, to be specific, he produced a 1:58.57 clocking.
While Kenish would go on to experience success in a multitude of events during his high school tenure, the half-mile became his forte. He secured indoor state titles as both a junior and a senior and when asked to reflect on those achievements, he again was quick to endorse his teammates.
"The team members from the class of 2020 were a really supportive group. We all challenged one another in practice and we were always cheering each other on during our events. The support I received from them always made me strive to do my best," Kenish said.
Couple the team camaraderie along with his determined mind-set and rehearsed approach and it's no wonder Kenish has enjoyed success in the event, which includes a personal best mark of 1:51.92, as well a number of big race wins to go along with those aforementioned state meet triumphs.
"When it comes to the 800, I don't race for time, I race for placement. For me, the perfect race is running the second lap faster than the first, closing strong and having enough left to out-kick the leader," he said.
Unfortunately, due to Covid19 prompting the cancellation of all high school sports this spring, Kenish didn't have the opportunity to demonstrate his 800 meter prowess during what would have been his senior outdoor campaign. That's a development he took in stride, however.
"I felt like I was really well-prepared entering the spring and I was excited to show what I could do. My goal was to break 1:50 as a senior, but the way I look at it now it's just a carry-over to my freshman year at Akron." Kenish said.
Times on the clock are far from his only goals once he arrives on the Northeast Ohio campus, however. The soon to be exercise science major mainly has team-related pursuits in mind.
"I'm very excited to compete in college. I really want to contribute to the program and help us win a MAC championship, Kenish said.
The absence of an outdoor track season wasn't the only obstacle Kenish has had to overcome of late. As a veteran cross country runner, and one who was primed to line up for the Zips, the news that the University of Akron would be eliminating their men's XC team was disappointing to say the least, but he once again demonstrated composure in the face of adversity.
"I was surprised to hear the XC program was being cut, as that decision really came out of the blue. My understanding, though, is I can run as an unattached athlete, so I'll still get to experience cross country racing at the college level and I'm fully on board with that plan," Kenish said.
The optimistic dual sport athlete has been tested with trying times this spring, but with his positive outlook, backed by his wealth of experience and success at the high school level, he's ready to move forward with the idea that these trends will continue at the onset of his freshman year.
"Overall, I'm rested and I'm ready to compete to the best of my ability for the University of Akron. I want to thank the Zips coaching staff for believing in me and for providing me with this amazing opportunity," Kenish said.