Draped in an Ethiopian flag, Lotus School For Excellence senior Kidus Begashaw holds up his medal for winning the Class 2A boys state cross country championship on Oct. 17, 2020, at the Norris Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs. Just six months after taking up running seriously, Begashaw claimed the state title by nearly 30 seconds. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Sentinel Colorado)

COLORADO SPRINGS | Kidus Begashaw watched the state cross country championship meet last fall and fell in love with running.

Saturday, the senior at Aurora’s Lotus School For Excellence was crowned a state champion at the same meet.

Just six months since he picked up competitive running, Begashaw — whose athletic roots were previously in basketball and soccer — claimed the Class 2A boys state title with a nearly 30-second victory at the Norris Penrose Events Center.

“I came last year and I saw (Lyons’) Isaac Roberts (the 2019 state champion) and I was like ‘I want to win, I want to win,'” said Begashaw, who finished in 16 minutes, 17.8 seconds, which was faster than Roberts’ winning time of 16:19.60.

“Every single day from that point forward, I wanted it,” he added. “I found a good coach, trained with that coach, trained really hard and became a state champion.”

Begashaw worked with coach Joey Bender and the Great Strides Track Club during the offseason and with Sarah Baysden and Patrick Rice with Lotus, a small Aurora school with less than 1,000 students combined in grades K-12.

He also said he got stretching advice and tips from two-time Olympic qualifier Aboukar Adani, who is a close friend of his family.

Begashaw — who was going to run track last spring before it got wiped out — made his one and only prep cross country season one to remember as he won every race he entered in Colorado, including the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede on the same Norris Penrose course that is home to the state meet. He won that race five weeks before state with a time that was significantly slower (16:54.70), but educational.

“The first time, I just killed myself on the uphill, which was a mistake,” Begashaw said. “Today I kept the same effort on the slow gradual uphill. I worked hard and pushed myself to the finish.”

As part of the first wave at the state meet, Begashaw was in the lead pack for the entire race and gained separation in the second half of the race.

He entered the Norris Penrose arena — empty of fans due to coronavirus precautions — alone and ran steadily over the packed dirt until he crossed the finish line, collapsing into the arms of workers, who took him immediately to the medical tent.

“Kidus was never pushed to that point, he’d never gone to the well or been pushed in these other races unless it was his own self-motivation,” Baysden said. “I think he knew Micah (Zeller of Custer County, the runner-up) was staying near him and he wanted to have a really good time on the state course, so he really took himself to the all-out limit.”

Begashaw recovered a short time later and relished his appearance with the rest of the top 10 runners at the medal ceremony. He posed for plenty of pictures, some draped in the flag of his heritage, Ethiopia, as well as some with junior teammate Nabil Hassan, who finished 31st.

Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports