SHAWNEE — Saturday afternoon at the Gordon Cooper Technology Center in Shawnee, Copan's Andrew Rodgers wandered around the finish line area trying to breath, trying to decide if he wanted to vomit. He was tired; really, really tired.
The 2.1 mile race Rodgers had just completed marked the end of a grueling few months in which Rodgers accomplished something very rare — winning a Class 2A state cross country title while also playing football.
“OK, I am ready to talk now,” Rodgers finally declared after leaning against a tree. “I took some shots the other night in our football game.”
The 6-foot-2, 160-pound Rodgers plays cornerback and wide receiver but excels at the kicker position.
“I am one of the best kickers in the state,” Rodgers said. “I have kicked a 52-yarder this year and can kick a 50-yard field goal off the ground. “
Each week, Rodgers worked at his cross country conditioning after football practice or by running at 5 a.m. before school. But in addition to the extra pounding his feet and legs took while conditioning for football, the bangs and bruises added to the difficulty of competing each Saturday morning in long distance running.
“Yeah, it is very tough,” Rodgers said. “My dad didn't want me to do it. I am glad it is over.”
Rodgers already has four track and field state titles in the 1- and 2-mile run. Because of football, this was the first season Rodgers competed in cross country. While already in talks with 10 colleges, Rodgers came into Saturday's event hoping to attract even more attention. Helping Rodgers' cause was his all-time best mark of 16:54. Before Saturday, Rodgers had yet to break 17 minutes.