A unique student athlete

Mohan Kumar ’21 is a hard working long distance runner, but he’s also much more.


Mohan Kumar ’21 recollects while he stretches at track practice.

He steps to the line. Takes a deep breath. He can feel his heart pumping like an engine. Each heartbeat pulses through his arms and legs, the blood courses through his veins. His muscles get tight with adrenaline. He fights through the nerves. He gets himself ready at the line and waits; waits for the gunshot. There’s a sudden explosion of sound and his body springs into motion. He steps, then steps, then steps again. He goes for miles and miles in a seemingly infinite loop. For Mohan Kumar ’21, this is just a normal meet.


Kumar has been a part of the track team since freshman year and enjoys the experience, even though the schedule can be rigorous. There is practice everyday after school from four to six and meets that consume an entire day, yet he stays optimistic about track. “I’d say it’s a good use of my time,” Kumar said. Kumar’s commitment to a demanding sport shows his clear dedication. His events of choice, the 1600 meter, and 800 meter races, are both distance events that require him to persevere in order to be competitive. He has even been able to shave off 11 seconds from his 1600 meter time last year, no small feat in a race that lasts around five minutes. It’s Kumar’s work ethic makes him capable of this improvement. “He’s always taking the workouts seriously,” said fellow distance runner Drew Peterson ’21.

There are many things that make Kumar unique. One specific part of Kumar’s life that distinguishes him from other track athletes is his heritage. Kumar is the only Indian long distance track athlete at West, but it doesn’t make him feel left out. “I’m pretty sure I was the second fastest Indian in the state, which is kind of a source of pride for me,” Kumar said. He views being Indian as something that makes him unique, in a good way. “I think it’s a positive thing in my running,” Kumar said.


As a part of his heritage, Kumar is a complete vegetarian. Additionally, he is allergic to dairy products and all nuts, so his diet is quite restricted. “I’ve never felt like weak… it doesn’t really affect my sport.” Kumar said. Surprisingly, this constrained diet has a minimal impact on his training. Luckily, he is able to get the protein he needs from tofu and eggs so he is able to keep up with the rigorous schedule track presents. There may even be some benefits to this lifestyle. “I think it actually probably helps having dietary restrictions with an athlete because you’re more aware of what you’re eating,” said track coach Josh Kidman.


When Kumar isn’t on the track, he is often working hard on his studies. Kumar has managed to keep a 4.0 grade point average, and he’s not giving up any time soon.  “[Having good grades] is probably my top priority in life,” Kumar said. He applies the same dedication he has on the track to the classroom. It’s evident to those around he puts forth a lot of effort into school. “[He’s] Smart, talented, focused and driven on and off the track,” Kidman said.

Although Kumar takes track and school very seriously, he still makes time for goofing around with friends. He’s known to his peers as a little bit of a jokester. “He’s a fun guy to have around,” said Peterson, “We joke around all the time, some of the stuff I can’t say here.” Kumar maintains his hard working, studious reputation while making sure he has fun with his teammates. He makes sure his track career takes precedence though. “Him and his buddies like to joke a lot and they’re fun and relaxed, but when it comes time to do something they’re pretty serious about it,” said Kidman.


Kumar has many sides depending on who you ask. To some he’s the Indian kid on the team, a fun loving guy, one of the smart kids, or a hard working, long distance track athlete, but in actuality he’s all of those things combined. To his peers and his coach he’s an important part of a tight knit team who pushes himself to be the best he can. Peterson puts it simply, “He just fits right in.”


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