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Cool Cat: Lusk signs with Montana State

Cool Cat: Lusk signs with Montana State

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SPRING CREEK — While her list of accomplishments is long and extensive, it also incomplete — not running a competitive race in nine months — but Spring Creek senior Kendra Lusk took a major stride last week.

After making a visit on Nov. 18, Lusk signed her national letter of intent to run cross country, indoor track and outdoor track for the Montana State University Bobcats.

One of the most decorated runners in the history of Spring Creek High School — despite missing out on her junior year of track and field due to COVID-19 — she could still add to her already-impressive resume should cross country take place in March and have the track and field season follow in the late spring.

Lusk also made visits to the College of Idaho, in Nampa; and the University of Montana, in Missoula; and was in contact with Weber State University, in Ogden, Utah.

However, her trip to Bozeman sealed the deal.

“It’s super pretty up there. I liked how big it was; the buildings, how many kids go there. They have like 16,000 students,” she said. “Coming from a place like here, it’s so small. I wanted to see something bigger.”

Unfortunately, during her trip, the NCAA Division I Council put all recruiting on a “dead period” through April 15, 2021, so she was unable to meet with the coach, tour the facilities or practice with her future teammates.

“I didn’t get to meet the coach or see the track or anything like that, but I had been in contact with the coach on the phone since the summer,” she said. “They want me to run cross, indoor and outdoor.”

As for choosing Montana State over the other programs Lusk visited and was in contact with, it all came down to her gut instinct.

“The reason I chose MSU was that I liked the coach, and it just felt right when I got there,” she said.

For conditioning, MSU head cross country and track and field coach Lyle Weese expects Lusk to continue training as she is currently and will likely give her specialized programs in the coming months or the summer.

“Right now, I run about 25 to 30 miles a week. I’ve been training since March, but it is getting old to do it by myself,” she said. “I had the opportunity to run in some races, but I have chosen not to. For high school stuff, other states weren’t allowing out-of-state athletes.”

Montana State competes in the Big Sky Conference, so when her collegiate career kicks off — Lusk will compete against a familiar face, one that will soon become a friendly foe.

She will run against, not with, older-sister Rylie Lusk, who currently runs for Weber State.

While in school, Kendra Lusk plans to go into pre-medicine and live on-campus.

“I want to get into the medical program, but I don’t know exactly what I want to do with it yet,” she said. “Montana has a rule that freshmen have to live on-campus, so I will do that for a year and then evaluate it after that.”

High School Career

Cross Country

As a freshman, Lusk burst onto the scene and put the Division 3A North and the entire state on notice early.

She won the Douglas Class Races in the first meet of her career, placed third in the Lowry Invitational and the Elko Invitational and finished sixth in the 3A North regional meet before upping the performance with a fifth-place finish at the 3A state run.

Spring Creek made a clean sweep as a team, winning the regional and state championships.

As a sophomore, Lusk tallied a second-place finish at one of the biggest meets of the year — the Bob Firman Invitational, in Boise, Idaho — crossed second to her sister in both the Lowry and Elko meets and finished the high school season with third-place efforts in both the regional and state meets.

The Lady Spartans once again booked the regional and state titles, and they posted the fastest-overall team time of any girls team in state — regardless of division — and earned the right to represent Nevada in the Nike Cross Southwest Regional Championships.

On Nov. 17, 2018, competing as the Ruby Mountain Running Club, they finished third as a team against some of the top runners and best programs the entire sport had to offer.

Individually, Lusk crossed fifth among the 158-girl field with a time of 18:45.1.

During her junior season, Lusk continued to soar — taking her running and her finishes to an elite level.

She tallied four first-place runs — two coming at the Lowry Invitational and the Wells Invitational — and stamped her dominance with back-to-back wins during the regional and state meets for first individual titles in either race.

On Nov. 2, 2019, she claimed the victory with a time of 19:56 during the 3A North regional meet at Rancho San Rafael Park, in Reno, pacing the Lady Spartans to a narrow, two-point victory over runner-up Truckee.

A week later, on Nov. 9, 2019, on the same course, Lusk and Spring Creek stepped up their games — winning the state championship by 20 points over Truckee.

Lusk captured her first state championship and shaved 18 seconds off her time, crossing the finish line in 19:38.

The consecutive victories extended Spring Creek’s dominance to four straight regional titles and three straight state championships.

Through three years of varsity cross country, Lusk knocked down three 1st-Team All-League selections, three 1st-Team All-State honors, three team-regional titles, three team state-crowns and an individual state championship.

Once again, Spring Creek took part in the NWX Southwest Regional Championships — ranking seventh out of 19 teams.

Lusk also took seventh place individually — running the course in 19:07.8 — against a field of 195 girls.

Track and Field

As for track and field, Lusk qualified twice for the state meet — losing out on the chance for her third trip to state when her junior season was canceled because of the coronavirus.

As a freshman, she was a member of Spring Creek’s 4x800 relay team that won the regional championship and took second place at state.

During her sophomore year, she improved greatly individually — qualifying for both the 1600 meters and the 3200 meters — finishing third at regionals in the 1600 meters and the 3200 meters.

As state, also ranked third in the 1600 (5:19.09) and 3200 (11:40.21) — setting personal records on each run.

In the 4x800 relay — after winning the regional championship — Spring Creek finished second at state for the second year in a row, doing so while running a great race.

The Lady Spartans would have set a new 3A state record in the event with a time of 9:30.8, but Truckee took the lead around the final corner and set the new state precedent with a time of 9:30.38.

However, the Lady Spartans had the last laugh — winning the 3A state championship in the team standings — blowing out Truckee by 40 points as a unit.

To start a shortened junior season, Lusk won two of the three races she ran — claiming the victory in the 800 meters of the Elko League Meet and the 3200 meters at the Spring Creek League Meet.

She ranked second in the 1600 meters in Elko.

Well Done

Congratulations to Kendra Lusk on her collegiate signing — already compiling a storied high school career for the Lady Spartans — and best of luck as she transitions to Montana State and Big Sky competition.

GALLERY: Kendra Lusk

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