Going the distance

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Eric Shelton | The Natchez Democrat — Kenya Davis, 14, is a freshman cross country runner for the Natchez High School cross country team. She runs in the mile and 2-mile races for the Bulldogs.

NATCHEZ — Natchez High School ninth grader Kenya Davis is younger than many of the girls she runs against as a member of the Bulldogs’ cross country team. But Davis uses desire to overcome her youth, and that has made her the top distance runner in Region 6-6A.

“I like (winning),” Davis said. “Maybe because when I win it makes me want to keep coming back and even if I don’t win I want to go try again.”

Natchez track coach Larry Wesley said Davis won the region championship in cross country as a seventh and eighth grader, and the characteristic that sets her apart from her competition is her attitude.

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“She has the desire,” he said. “She wants to do it, and definitely has the will to win. She hates to lose.”

Davis said the fact that many of the girls she competes against are older than her does not affect her confidence in her ability to compete.

“You never can tell (how old each girl is) until after the race, so it doesn’t make that big of a difference,” she said.

Davis joined the Natchez track team in the seventh grade.

“I just wanted something else to do,” she said. “I didn’t play any sports, and I thought about running, and it sounded interesting.”

Once Davis joined the team, she said Wesley coached her up to be the runner she is today.

Davis is also a member of the Natchez cheerleading squad, and combining cross country and cheerleading leads to busy afternoons for the 14 year old.

“I come to track first, and after that I go to cheerleading until about 6 p.m.,” she said.

Davis said she likes keeping busy, and she provided a simple picture of what her life would be like if she didn’t have cheerleading and track.

“I’d be fat,” she said.

Along with her extracurricular activities, Davis is also dealing with the changes in the classroom that come with being a high school freshman.

“I like freshman year,” she said. “Everything is new to me, and I’m still getting settled. I like my classes a lot.”

Davis said when she pictures herself as an upperclassman she sees someone who is successful on and off the track.

“(I see myself as) smart and being able to run,” she said. “I have three more years (of track left after this year), so I probably see myself winning three (state championships). I’m going to try my hardest.”

Davis finished fourth at the state cross country meet as an eighth grader.

Wesley said he has big plans for Davis as well.

“If she keeps on growing in track and field I think she’s going to do some special things for Natchez track and field,” he said.