In our continuing effort to highlight our senior student-athletes, we are presenting our “Senior Showcase” feature. Whether a senior intends on continuing their athletic career at the next level or not, we are wanting to highlight the accomplishments of this year’s senior class. Click here to submit your nomination for “Senior Showcase”.

MOUND CITY — From the classroom to the playing field, Kate Dawson has been a leader throughout her four-year stretch at Jayhawk-Linn High School. For her, it just came naturally.

Now, after a standout career that included a state championship in track and field, the senior will be taking her talents to the next level as she prepares to continue her education and athletic career at NCAA Division II Pittsburg State University.

“I chose Pitt State because of how awesome the team was,” said Dawson, who officially signed a national letter-of-intent for cross country and track in the fall. “All the girls were so kind, and I could tell they were really dedicated to running. I wanted to be on a team where I knew my teammates were going to push me, and from seeing Pitt State’s program, I knew that was definitely going to happen there. I have always wanted to run there, so making the decision was easy.”

Dawson has been active in sports throughout her JLHS career, participating in cross country, basketball and track and field. She has also been a cheerleader for Jayhawk-Linn four straight years, including consecutive years as team captain.

Outside of sports, she was the Student Council President as well as Vice President of FFA. She has also participated in FCCLA, FCA, National Honors Society and 4-H.

“I was in charge of majority of the things our school has put on for the students … such as homecoming, any pep rallies and assemblies,” Dawson said.

During her four-year run, Dawson’s ultimate highlight was capturing the 2019 Class 2A championship in the girls’ 800-meter run at the Kansas State Track and Field Championships as a junior. In that event, she set a personal record of 2:19.52, which established a new school record. She also broke the school record in the 1600-meter run, finishing third place in 2A at 5:25.96.

“I knew (a state championship) wasn’t out of reach for me,” Dawson said. “Looking back on that day, though, I had no idea what was in store. Anything can happen at state. I remember the gun going off and getting boxed in within the first 200 meters and, when I bolted out, I thought to myself this is my race. I had a big lead. In the last 100 meters, the girl in second was gaining, but I kept strong and held my ground.

“The experience was incredible. I had definitely worked all season for that state title. As soon as I crossed the finish line, it was so rewarding because I never let up. Once I caught my breathe, I got emotional because I not only won, but I beat our school record. It was one of the best experiences of my life.”

Prior to that state championship, Dawson had already posted an impressive junior campaign, which included Three Rivers League championships in the 400, 800 and 1600, as well as Class 2A Marion Regional titles in the 800 and 1600.

Dawson’s bid to repeat as a state champion recently ended, though, when the Kansas State High School Activities Association cancelled the spring sports season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“(Winning a state championship) definitely made me want to train even harder this year,” Dawson said. “I had a goal of being a back-to-back state champ and running a 2:16. I couldn’t believe it (when the season was cancelled). It didn’t feel real at all. I was pretty emotional at first, but then I just keep telling myself I get to run at the collegiate level. So it isn’t completely over for me.”

Dawson capped off her track and field career by qualifying for state each year and earning league championships in the 800 and 1600 all three years.

Of course, Dawson’s success was not limited to the track. She was a four-year competitor in cross country for the Jayhawks, capturing the Three Rivers League championship and earning a state berth four straight years. This past fall, she won the league title by more than a minute and went on to capture seventh place in Class 2A at the Kansas State Cross Country Meet in Wamego with a time of 20:11.56. That came after taking 12th place as a sophomore and eighth place as a junior.

“Running kinda came natural,” Dawson said. “I was winning races throughout junior high, but to get get to where I am at today, training definitely helped me get here.”

She also competed in basketball for four years. This past season, she earned All-TRL Second Team after averaging 7.6 points and five rebounds per game for the Jayhawks. She was also All-Class 2A Honorable Mention by Sports in Kansas.

The ongoing pandemic has affected seniors throughout the state of Kansas, including the closing of buildings for in-person classes. That has also put other activities on hold as schools try to figure out their next step.

“I was pretty upset, but the two main activities I definitely wanted to experience was graduation and prom,” Dawson said. “Luckily, there has been talk to reschedule those this summer. But there are many teachers I miss seeing every day along with friends. It was definitely really hard to take in.

“I am a pretty positive person, and I have really found the silver lining in all of this. I am so glad I have gotten so much family time, and time to just work on myself. I have been able to form just a good routine that includes working out, homework and time to just relax. I am definitely ready to go eat out again though.”

Although there is no date set for graduation, Dawson said she is already looking ahead to her next step at Pittsburg State.

“I have just been doing workouts that I would have done if I was still in track season,” Dawson said. “I won’t get a workout schedule for next season for another couple weeks. My expectations would be to always work hard and never finish a workout/race with the feeling that I could have gave more.”

SEK-SPORTS: What are some of your interests and hobbies away from school?
DAWSON: “I am on a dance team. I also show pigs during the fair.”

SEK-SPORTS: Who is your favorite athlete? Favorite sports team? Favorite music group/singer?
DAWSON: “My favorite athlete is Patrick Mahomes. My favorite team is definitely the Chiefs.”

SEK-SPORTS: Who are the people that you look up to as far as role models?
DAWSON: “I look up to my brother. He is definitely my biggest role model. He constantly works hard and is dedicated to whatever task is ahead of him.”

SEK-SPORTS: What is a fun fact about you that people may or may not know?
DAWSON: “A fun fact about me is I love pickles.”