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2014 NSAA State Track and Field Championship, 5.24.14

Kenzo Cotton (right) of Papillion-La Vista crosses the finish line ahead of Kearney's Tyler Gillen and Elkhorn South's Keaton Suey (left) in 21.91 seconds to win the Class A boys 200-meter dash Saturday at the state track meet at Burke Stadium in Omaha. It was Cotton's fourth straight win the event.

DAN LITTLE/Lincoln Journal Star

OMAHA — Kenzo Cotton didn't dwell on what might have been.

The Papillion-La Vista senior instead marveled at what he was able to accomplish during his high school career, topped by winning four straight 200-meter titles at the state track meet.

"The four times means the most. I'm thankful I had the chance for four," Cotton said Saturday at Burke Stadium after he put the finishing touches on his prep career. "When it got closer to the meet, it did start to hit me and I started to get excited and nervous at the same time because of my hamstring. I'm very excited to win my last race."

The part that might have been was three straight victories in the 100 at state. That opportunity was thwarted by a recurring hamstring injury this spring.

Instead, Cotton may have demonstrated his dominance in the sprints even more completely with a victory in the 400, posting a 47.66-second time, the fourth-best time in state history.

"I think the 400 is special because I can't really say I dominated the sprints without winning all-class golds in all three races, so I'm happy about that," said Cotton, who is headed to Arkansas to continue his track career. "When I saw the Class B kid ran a :48.1, I knew I'd have to PR to beat him. I didn't want to just win Class A. I wanted the all-class gold."

Cotton leaves Nebraska with all-time marks in two other events — his :10.4 in the 100 is tied for fourth and the :21.31 he ran in the 200 at state as a sophomore is eighth.

Running the 400 provided Cotton with a new perspective.

"In the 100 and 200, there's not a whole lot of strategy. In the 400, you do need some strategy," he said. "I can't just jog the first 200 and then take off.

"A hamstring injury affects you most in your start, so with my starts this year, I know I can't catch up in the first 50 or the first 100. But I trust I can catch them at the end."

Cotton said he's sure he'll run the 200 in college but he doesn't know if he will run all three sprint races.

"If it was up to me and my hamstring was good, I'd probably run the 100 and 200 and maybe the 400 every once in a while to see how good of shape I'm in," he said. "You have to stick with your training during the regular season so you're used to it. I didn't want to die or hurt myself."

Cotton injured his hamstring last summer, reinjured it during football season and again in February.

"Honestly, I don't remember what it feels like to run without worrying about my hamstring," he said. "The last time I did that was last summer. I haven't really had time to rest it."

​Reach the writer at 402-473-7314 or On Twitter @LJS_RJHambleton.


A Scottsbluff native, Ryly Jane graduated from UNL and worked at the Journal Star.

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