JENNIFER FIERRO • STAFF WRITER
MARBLE FALLS — Kim Boni defied the mold, even that of her distance coach Anthony Torns.
The Marble Falls High School senior signed her letter of intent to run for the University of Arkansas-Little Rock on April 18 after Torns, who is the Lady Mustangs head cross-country and track-and-field coach, talked about Boni’s journey.
“… It’s been real crazy for her,” he said, noting she only had one collegiate offer during the cross-country season. So the two went back to work, and Torns made her promise. If she ran the times college coaches sought, they would find her.
That’s just what happened as she had a personal best of 5 minutes 18 seconds in the 1,600 meters. Shortly after that time posted, Arkansas-Little Rock called Torns for Boni’s phone number. After visiting the campus and ensuring the scholarship was a full ride and not a partial, Boni committed to running for the Division I member of the Sun Belt Conference.
“I really liked the campus. The coach is real nice,” she said. “They offered me a scholarship that I couldn’t turn down.”
Boni will run in any distance event beginning with the 800 meters to 5 kilometers as a cross-country and track runner.
“(The Lord) looks out for people,” Torns said. “She’s a primary example of how God steps in.”
Still, Torns couldn’t talk about the end of the journey without reflecting on Boni’s beginning.
As a freshman, she came to him as a triple jumper and 400-meter runner, and Torns admitted he wasn’t that impressed by her.
He isn’t a fan of what he calls the “pity clap,” when fans see a runner who is lapped and struggling to finish and encourage that athlete to keep going to the finish line.
So he put her in the 400 meters knowing she would run as fast as she could for one lap. While she may not win, at least she wouldn’t receive the pity clap.
But Boni kept asking Torns how she could get better. So he encouraged her to participate in cross country as a sophomore, emphasizing the longer distance would be good for her 400 meters in the spring.
On the second day of cross-country practice, Torns called for a time trial, and Boni “outran everybody.”
So he switched her to longer distances and watched as she excelled.
“She’s proof that most coaches don’t know anything,” Torns said. “She has this natural ability for longer endurance, to run long. It shows how much we as coaches don’t know.”
He credited her for being self-driven, noting she reaches out to him almost every day to ask what kind of workout she needs to do or what kind of time she needs to post. He noted that she has felt disappointment at regional and state meets that has simply fueled her desire to get better. And it also helped that a group of talented freshmen were at the high school campus this year, he added.
“It’s going to be up to you to show them ‘I’m the big dog,’” he said. “She motivated and encouraged them.”
The daughter of Chris Boni and Joni Boni will major in kinesiology.