Distance running part of natural progression for Rock Bridge athlete

Friday, May 17, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT
Rock Bridge distance runner Nathan Keown qualified for this weekend's state sectionals in the 3,200-meter and 4x800-meter relay.

COLUMBIA — Out of breath, and gasping for air, Nathan Keown fell to the track at Rock Bridge.

He said his legs felt wobbly and he had a headache. He had just finished a two-hour workout, and there was still 15 minutes left to go in Tuesday's practice.

These kind of workouts are nothing new for Keown, who is a senior for the Bruins and qualified for Saturday’s Class 4 track and field sectional at Ozark High School in the 1600 and 3200-meter runs. Not only has he competed at the state meet in the 3200 for the past two years, his brothers Jimmy and Ben Keown ran at Rock Bridge and in college, and he picked up the sport from them.

Jimmy Keown is nine years older than Nathan Keown. Ben Keown is six years older than Nathan Keown. Ben Keown ran cross country and track for Central Missouri from 2008 to 2012. Jimmy Keown ran cross country and track at UMKC from 2006 to 2009.

Nathan Keown plans to run both at UMKC as well, where he will major in either pre-medicine or biochemistry before going to medical school. He says running is his passion in life and is the first thing he ever wanted to do.

Nathan Keown went to all of his brothers’ high school meets. At cross-country meets, he would run next to the course and follow his brothers as they ran.

“With such an age gap, it was more of a mentorship of him coming to the races and just experiencing that stuff,” Jimmy Keown said about his brother. “With the nine years difference, it was definitely, him getting immersed in the experience, and seeing the little successes I had and realizing that running was an interest and a path that he wanted to pursue.”

Jimmy Keown taught Nathan Keown the basics of the sport.

“I still call him up after any race he has, and see how it went,” Jimmy Keown said.

Ben Keown taught Nathan Keown how to run with finesse and improve his position during a race.

“He (Jimmy) was the one that introduced me to track, and he can take a lot of credit for my basic knowledge of the sport,” Nathan Keown said. “My middle brother (Ben) showed me how to run with good composure and the ability to move up (through the pack) throughout a race.”

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