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Shoes optional for runner Kenny Tsao

Barefoot runner holds great potential

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Shoes optional for runner Kenny Tsao

Music education junior Kenny Tsao, standing apart from the pack

Music education junior Kenny Tsao, standing apart from the pack

ELIZABETH KUNZIG/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Music education junior Kenny Tsao, standing apart from the pack

ELIZABETH KUNZIG/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

ELIZABETH KUNZIG/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Music education junior Kenny Tsao, standing apart from the pack

By Chelsey Richter Staff Writer

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When music education junior Kenny Tsao runs for Loyola’s cross country team he is very noticeable; he will be the one running without shoes.

He did not start out running barefoot. During his senior year of high school, he suffered a foot injury and began reading about runners’ injuries, which eventually led him to read about the benefits of running without shoes.

“I figured why not…my injury couldn’t get any worse,” Tsao said. “Running barefoot keeps me consistent, and consistency is a key element to running.”

As a third-year runner, Tsao said he came to Loyola with the desire to help build the cross country program. He said he is not concerned about the significant additions to this season’s roster. In fact, Tsao was very impressed with the expansion.

“The new runners offer a better dynamic. When you bring in that much talent it pushes everyone to do better,” Tsao said.

Because of the increase in runners, Coach Andy Canegitta has divided men and women, and within those groups, has divided them by pace. Tsao attributes his spot in the top group to motivation from new runners.

“This season I did not start out in the fastest pace group, but the freshmen encouraged me to do better, and now I am in the top pace group,” Tsao said.

Canegitta described Tsao as a runner with great potential.

“He has definitely progressed as a runner in the past few years,” Canegitta said. “Kenny is bound to have a break-out race very soon.”

Tsao placed in the top five at the 2010 Wolfpack Invitational, but said he wasn’t always a top finisher. In middle school, it took him 15 minutes to run a mile, and in high school it took him 31 minutes to run a 5K race.

“I didn’t take running seriously until senior year, but I’m very glad I did,” Tsao said.

Tsao said he hopes to do well this season and not have the freshmen outrun him.

The Maryland native also plays the tuba for the St. Ignatius Spirit Band. After college, Tsao said he would like to pursue a career in music education with hopes of composing music and coaching track and field.

“I want to get kids into running,” Tsao said. “People never hear good things about running; it’s always about injuries. I hope to inspire my runners with my ideas as well as Coach Andy’s…so we can finally see whose methods are right.”

“There is no right or wrong way,” Canegitta said.

Tsao said he has a secret career goal of becoming a stunt double.

“I love tumbling and climbing trees,” Tsao said. “I like jumping from high places. I want to be like a monkey, I guess.”

“When I can’t find Kenny at a meet, I immediately look up in the trees and usually find him there,” Canegitta said.

Chelsey Richter can be reached at [email protected]

Music education junior Kenny Tsao, front, and marketing freshman Casey Shaw run for the finish line at the 2011 Wolfpack Invitational. (elizabeth Kunzig/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

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