Pushing himself

First Posted: 12/30/2013

When basketball games get tense, many high school players rely on the experience they picked up playing year-round, particularly in summer leagues.

John Kane, a Holy Redeemer senior from Shavertown, counts on his summer activity as well to carry him through tough fourth quarters.

“When we’ve had conditioning or were playing in summer leagues, I’ve had to say, ‘sorry, I’m going to a triathlon’,” said Kane, a 6-foot-5 forward. “I can be in a game in the fourth quarter and I know the fourth quarter is like the last two miles of a triathlon.

“I can be tired, but I have to push through.”

Kane pushes through endurance challenges well.

The 17-year-old has won three straight age-group titles in the Wilkes-Barre Triathlon and has qualified for the 19-and-under age group of the USA Triathlon National Championships to be held in Milwaukee, Wisc. Aug. 9.

The training necessary for the competition of testing himself as an endurance athlete in the combination of swimming, cycling and running has helped Kane in his high school sports of basketball and track and field, where he is a hurdler. The versatility has also turned him into a major college prospect in rowing.

Although he has never competed in a boat, his athleticism and endurance in competing and training have led to NCAA Division I college crew offers.

Kane has an official visit to Syracuse coming up and has made an unofficial visit to Holy Cross. He has been in contact with college crew coaches at Virginia and Wisconsin, among others.

The college interest came about when trainers at NEPA CrossFit in Wilkes-Barre suggested Kane do a time trial on rowing machines that were sometimes part of his fitness training. Those times were strong enough to impress college coaches, particularly with the knowledge that Kane was producing them without formal training in rowing technique.

Kane has been trying different sports since beginning baseball and soccer “real young.” He ran cross country in grade school and has competed in all but three events in track and field.

While competing in one high school sport and planning on the other coming up in the spring, Kane looks forward to the possibility of starting a new one in college and aiming higher in the triathlon.

“The biggest thing is that I’ve always wanted to do as many sports as I can,” said Kane, who more than doubled his scoring average with a 16-point effort during the holiday week in a consolation game loss to Hanover Area at the 48th annual Robert McGrane Tournament.

The willingness to try new challenges led Kane to the Wilkes-Barre Duathlon and on to triathlons where he had to prepare to compete in swimming for the first time, taking on the challenge of covering nearly a mile in a lake.

“My weak point is still my swimming,” Kane said. “Bike is probably my best and I’m a pretty good runner.”

Kane points to three-time Wilkes-Barre Triathlon overall champion Sean Robbins, also from Shavertown, and notes that Robbins’ split times in each discipline have been almost identical in each of his wins.

“He’s like a machine,” said Kane, who is trying to build similar consistency.

Working his way through the Back Mountain during the Wilkes-Barre Triathlon is part of the preparation for competing on the national level.

“We kind of underestimate this area,” Kane said. “We have so many people come to this area to race. When I raced in Philadelphia, I thought it was so much easier terrain.

“The Wilkes-Barre Triathlon is so difficult because of running and biking up and down hills. We’re fortunate to have such a difficult triathlon right here in the Back Mountain.”

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