MCHS junior Miguel Molina running cross country, playing football this season |

MCHS junior Miguel Molina running cross country, playing football this season

Ben Bulkeley

Miguel Molina, 16, will run cross country and play football this season for Moffat County High School. The MCHS junior has had to balance two-a-day football workouts with early morning cross-country runs for the past week, a grind likely to continue through the fall sports season.

Miguel Molina has been in constant motion this month.

He wakes up every day and runs with the cross-country team at 6:30 a.m.

When his run is over, the 16-year-old returns to Moffat County High School, puts on his shoulder pads, and delivers and takes his licks as a defensive back and wingback.

Such is life for the two-sport Molina.

"In track, I was a pretty good long-distance runner," he said. "(Cross-country head coach Todd) Trapp wanted me to run cross country for him.

"But, I wasn't going to stop playing football to go run."

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So, a compromise was reached.

Molina will play football games Friday nights, then turn around and run cross-country meets Saturday mornings.

The increased workload comes during Molina's junior year, which he said is filled with tougher classes and an increased workload.

Molina played varsity football last season, with a handful of starts and a 40-yard touchdown catch during the homecoming game.

Balancing the two sports has been a challenge already, Molina said.

"It's been rough," he said. "I have two-a-days for football, and on Tuesday, I went on a run in the morning.

"It was a short run, but it still killed me. It drained all my energy."

While he has been able to participate in both sports during the preseason, the regular season becomes more complicated.

The first scheduling conflict will be Sept. 3, when the cross-country team runs at 4 p.m. in Arapahoe and the football team plays at 7 p.m. in Aspen.

On Sept. 17, the cross-country team will be at the Liberty Bell Invitational while the football team hosts John F. Kennedy High School in the only other conflict.

"I'll do all the football games and whatever I can for running," Molina said.

The schedule — at least 10 football games and six regular-season cross-country meets, not including state and regionals — will be easier with some help, Molina said.

"I have friends on either side who keep pushing me," he said. "They know what I'm capable of, and they push me to my limits."

Being on the go for so long has presented Molina with several benefits so far.

"It's helped me out in both," he said. "I'll be in perfect shape for football, and for running, I'll be in pretty good shape, too."

But, with the added workload, the chance for injuries also increases.

"I'm going to be really tired, and I hope I can keep up," Molina said. "I hope I don't get injured in either sport.

"If I get injured in one sport, I'm sure it'll effect the other."

As different as the two sports are, Molina said he has the same goal for both.

"I look forward to cross country going all the way, and winning (state)," he said. "For football, it's the same. I think it's going to be a fun year, and hopefully I'll be successful in both.

"I just have to push through it."

Lance Scranton, MCHS varsity football defensive coach, said the trend of two-sport athletes could become increasingly popular.

"For a school our size, we may start to see more and more kids playing two sports in the same season," he said. "Coaches understand that they might need to share kids between two sports."

Despite having twice the workload of other athletes, Scranton said Molina isn't losing focus with either.

"Miguel is committed to two sports," Scranton said. "That's a hard thing to try to do. I know it's going to be a huge challenge.

"But, I admire that he is helping out two teams. That's the epitome of what athletics are about."

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