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For KC’s Harrison, love for running leads to higher goals


Special to the Times | Curtis Ray Benally

Kirtland Central Bronco Kashon Harrison leads the boys race during the New Mexico Class 4A state cross-country meet on Saturday, Nov. 10, at Rio Rancho High School. Harrison successfully defended his individual title from 2017 with a time of 15:24.35.

When Kashon Harrison was in junior high he fell in love with running.

The love the 18-year-old Kirtland Central High senior developed has led to back-to-back state titles.

Over the weekend at the New Mexico High School cross-country state championships, Harrison placed first in 15:27.35 in the Class 5A race. Although he won a gold medal, he said it wasn’t about the hardware.

“It’s just a love for the sport,” he said. “It’s not really to win it, it’s more than just winning. You just have to love it in order to win it. The more you love the sport, the more you progress in it.”

Running was always in Harrison’s blood. His father, Vernon Harrison, won the state title in 2000 and was the last individual state cross-country titleholder for Kirtland Central.
Kashon ended the drought last season when he earned his first state cross-country title.

And Kashon’s mother, Lisa Sherman, was a basketball player.

Sherman said her son, the oldest of eight who comes from a blended family, always loved to run.

She said he picked up running around the age of five and immediately competed in children’s races. In the fifth grade, he decided to run with Ojo Amarillo Elementary’s program.

“It was something that he wanted to see what it would be like,” Sherman said. “He competed that year, his fifth grade year and he was in like the top 10.”

He signed up for football and quickly learned that it wasn’t his sport. Sherman said her son decided to give running a second chance, and when he did she saw him fall in love.

“He said, ‘Let me just try it out.’ He did and that’s when he noticed, when he realized, ‘I can do this, I really want to do this,’” Sherman said.

Sherman told him that he had to put in the work.
She said her son was immediately determined to be the best, and she challenged him to prove it.

“We told him if you want it you’re going to have to work for it,” Sherman recalls. “Show us, don’t tell us, just show us.”

Her son took the challenge.

As an eighth grader, Harrison made it onto the varsity boys’ cross-country team.

Because he was still in junior high, he was allowed to run only a short number of races. When the postseason came around, he realized he had run all of his races, which disqualified him to run in the state meet.

Sherman said Harrison was disappointed, but instead of feeling helpless he did the opposite.

As a freshman, Harrison placed third at state. As a sophomore he placed second. As a junior he won his first state title.

Sherman said it made sense because he had ambitions driving him.

“He always used to watch the Olympics and he’s like, ‘Mom, I want to go to the Olympics,’” she said.

“I tease him and say, ‘You have my heart and you have your dad’s legs,’” she said. “He wants to do it not just for himself but for people around here. He just wants to prove to everybody that not just any other racers can do it, but Native Americans can make it that far too.”

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About The Author

Sunnie R. Clahchischiligi

Sunnie Clahchischiligi has been the sports writer for the Navajo Times since 2008. She has a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from the University of New Mexico. Before joining the Times, she worked at the St. Cloud Times (Minn.), the Albuquerque Journal, the Santa Fe New Mexican, Sports Illustrated Magazine in New York City and the Salt Lake Tribune. She can be reached at or via cell at (505) 686-0769.