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Cochi: Fairview’s Kennedy stronger after enduring pneumonia in 2011

Cross country is a sport defined by grueling cardiovascular strain and mental toughness. How much harder would it be to have to suffer through the bulk of a distance-running season with a lung infection?

Fairview’s Isabelle Kennedy had pneumonia for most of her 2011 season, go ask her.

Her sophomore campaign was still a successful one, as she finished ninth at the 5A state tournament. But more importantly, while combating the restrictive infection she learned a lot about the taxing sport. And about her inner strength.

“You’re stronger than you think you are, honestly,” Kennedy said. “I was able to run through most of pneumonia but obviously my lungs weren’t doing too well. You learn to push through feeling bad and really run well even though you’re not feeling good.”

Healthy during the offseason, Kennedy was able to get a lot of running in during this past summer.

Excited to be back for her junior season, Kennedy already has picked up where she left of at the end of 2011. Finishing the Norris Penrose Event Center course in 20 minutes, 12.4 seconds, she took sixth at last week’s Cheyenne Mountain Stampede, the early-season preview of this season’s state championship course.

“I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I just went out there to get to know the course and remember what it feels like to race a 5K,” she said. “I was pretty happy with how it turned out.”

Her own health isn’t the only thing Kennedy has to be excited about. She’ll return as the fastest runner on a Knights girls group that has a promising outlook early on after finishing third at the Stampede.

Kennedy, senior Emily Barnes (14th), senior Margot Clyne (24th), sophomore Mckenna Payes (30th) and sophomore Kristina Brunsgaard (39th) all placed in the top 40.

“We have a lot of depth and we’re hoping to go top five at state,” Kennedy said. “That should happen if nobody gets injured.”

With good health and realistically high hopes for her team, Kennedy has much to look forward to this season. At the very least, she appreciates a shot at a healthy campaign after enduring last year’s rough stretches.

“It was not wonderful,” Kennedy said. “But I’m feeling fast this year and I have good coaches so hopefully I can keep getting faster and faster.”

Follow Brad on Twitter: @BradCochi

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