HARDIN — Hardin senior cross-country standout Keyshawn Rogers runs with a heavy heart.
In July of 2016 as Rogers was getting set to enter his freshman year of high school, his mother passed away unexpectedly from a bout with strep throat.
“I seen her a couple days before she passed away. I didn’t even notice she was sick," Rogers said. "When I found out, I was having a normal day hanging out with my friends. I got a call from my auntie telling me to come to the hospital as fast as I could. My dad picked me up, and when I pulled up I seen all my family members gathered around the door and I walked towards them and asked what was going on. My grandma told me that my mom was in a better place now in heaven.”
Cross country has served as an escape of sorts for Rogers over the past four years. He’s able to free his mind when he’s out on the course, and that’s helped him battle the tough times throughout his high school career.
“It’s been really hard, but I’ve been using running to kind of get me out of that dark place that I’ve been going through," Rogers said. "I just picture her at the end of the finish line waiting for me, cheering me on. It’s what keeps me going, pushes me to the end.”
That internal motivation and drive has pushed Rogers to become one of the best cross-country runners in Class A. At this weekend’s State A meet in Great Falls, Rogers will run his final cross country meet of his high school career with the memory of his mother close by.
“I just really want to make my mom proud and hopefully be a state champ. It just drives me every day. Every day I wake up thinking about it, preparing my mind, body, talking to my teammates, getting us on the same page," said Rogers.
The Hardin boys are among the favorites to win the State A title, and you can bet Rogers’ mother will be smiling down on them from the heavens on Saturday afternoon.
State cross country gets going tomorrow at 11 a.m. at Eagle Falls Golf Course in Great Falls. Hardin’s boys are scheduled to run at 1:40 p.m.