“We just want to go out with a bang and leave a legacy,” the Whitefield Academy runner said.
The duo look to accomplish that feat heading into their high school swan songs.
Kell’s Poteet is the defending Class AAAAA state champion, while Keough was the runner-up in the Class A private-school meet. Both runners have been training during the offseason, with the goal of winning their respective races in November in Carrollton.
Keough placed fifth at the state meet as a sophomore before improving his standing last year, crossing the finish line in 17 minutes, 1.25 seconds. He was also runner-up in the Area 4A championship (16:46.78).
Keough admits that he didn’t run his best race in Carrollton, but he also knew it would have been tough to beat the winner, Galloway’s Reilly Friedman.
“I’ll have to race Reilly again this year,” Keough said. “I was racing Reilly last year, but I wasn’t in the same race as him. Through the first mile I was in 15 (-second) splits, so I just went out at a chilled pace and just passed people the whole day. With 800 meters to go, I took second and held it from there.”
Friedman won in 16:29.80.
“I mean, I was 30 seconds behind (Reilly), so it wasn’t like he was ever in danger of me passing him,” Keough said, “but, hopefully, that will change this year.”
Keough wants to sweep the area and state championships this year. He’s more of a middle-distance runner, however, and doesn’t really do too much high-mileage running.
Despite the low-level training, Keough is still one of the best runners in the state. He got a late start to his cross country training because track season didn’t end for him until around mid-June.
“I’ve trained between 40 to 50 miles a week,” Keough said. “Sometimes, around 40 to 35. I was just chilling this summer because track ended late for me. Since then, I’ve been trying to cover the gaps now and see what I can do this season.”
Keough, one of four Whitefield seniors, was named team captain.
“I’m very excited (about the season),” he said. “I love cross country, and I’m captain of my team, so there’s that to add. It means I’m someone on the team that guys can look up to.”
Poteet’s Kell teammates also look up to him because he, too, has shown what it takes to be the best. Despite having already reached the pinnacle, Poteet is still driven to succeed.
“I’d like to defend my title in the state championship in AAAAA, but I’d also like to be first in all divisions,” he said. “I’d also like to make it to the national meet this year. That’s my biggest goal, to qualify for that.
“I had a bad race at the Foot Locker regional qualifier. I just wasn’t in it. This year, I’d like come back and do well and make it to nationals in San Diego.”
Poteet spent the offseason working to develop more strength and speed in his runs. He wants to be faster and stronger than he was last year.
Poteet won the Class AAAAA title in 16:13.38 and captured the Region 7AAAAA crown in 15:48.54.
“I’d like to see my time drop down to the low 15s,” he said. “My ultimate goal would be to break 15. That will be my biggest challenge, but that’s what I want to do this season.”
Poteet and Keough have similar traits that make them elite runners.
“Everyone can train and get in really good shape,” Poteet said. “I’m sure there are other guys just as fast as I am, and they possibly have more speed. I’m sure there are guys who are stronger and faster, but it takes a different type of mentally to really breakthrough from the pack and be out in front. It’s all mentality if you ask me.”