Athlete Spotlight: Graham Blanks Of Athens Academy

Our HS Boys Athlete Spotlight of the Week is Graham Blanks of Athens Academy

Here is a Q and A we did with him-

MileSplit GA- How does it feel breaking the Lamar Murphy Park course record at the Bob Roller Invitational on Saturday and now being known as one of the '4 Kings' in Georgia Boys HS Cross Country? King of the North!

Graham- I'm happy but hungry for more after the race this Saturday. I came in with the goal of breaking 15 but coming out with a 15:07 certainly isn't a disappointment in my books. In regards to the "4 Kings of Georgia Cross Country," I'm not really sure what that is or who they are but I appreciate the title!

MileSplit GA- When did you first become interested in running?

Graham- I became interested in running similarly to how alot of kids did which was running road race 5k's when I was younger. My mom got me into distance running when I was in lower school and I was hooked.

MileSplit GA- When did you realize that Cross Country/Track and Field was your calling athletically?

Graham- I realized that Cross Country/Track and Field was my calling athletically and spiritually when I won a region XC meet my Sophomore year. That Fall I decided to give up year round soccer and focus solely on running.

MileSplit GA- What was the first big race you won that has special meaning for you?

Graham- Winning the cross country state championship my junior year was certainly the first big race that was special for me. It felt like all of my hard work finally paid off.

MileSplit GA- How supportive is the Athens Academy XC running Community of you and the team?

Graham- The Athens Academy running community is tremendously supportive of our program, whether that be doing workouts with us, helping us travel to meets, or even Athletic Director Kevin Petroski running Athens Academy's athletic Instagram account putting our team in the spotlight.

MileSplit GA- Are you friends with any of the guys from other schools you compete against?

Graham- Unlike chsxc73 says on his post from the discussion board a few weeks ago, I am in fact friends with alot of my competition. We all share the common goal of simply running fast making a lot our friendships inevitable. I think it's important for Georgia distance runners to support each other considering the lack of coverage we get from national running media sites and how similar we all are. Hopefully some of us will get to hang out in Coronado in a few months!

MileSplit GA- What are your goals for the remainder of the GHSA season?

Graham- Ideally, I would like to dip underneath 15 minutes, win the state championship, and qualify for Footlocker Nationals. 

MileSplit GA- Are you planning on competing at Foot Locker South or NXN Regionals?

Graham- Footlocker South

MileSplit GA- What is your favorite food, movie/tv shows, leisure activities and music?

Graham- One of my favorite leisure activities has to be playing hide and go seek with my pals! Although my friend Brent typically gets lost in the woods a majority of the time, it's usually an amusing game that I can play for hours. I am also a very big fan of Vampire Weekend and The Strokes. 

MileSplit GA- What colleges are you interested in competing for?

Graham- I've taken official visits to Georgetown and Columbia and am currently on my visit at Harvard. Hopefully I'll make my decision this week!

MileSplit GA- Have you decided on a degree path/career choice post HS?

Graham- I'm interested in Business, Econ, and Environmental science. Hopefully I can make my mind up soon!

MileSplit GA- Is there anyone you would like to thank/recognize on your journey thus far?

Graham- None of my success would be possible without the help of my coaches, Coach Walton and Coach Anderson, my parents, my boy Jack Cook, and Julian Casablancas for making some sweet pre-race music. 

MileSplit GA- What advice do you have for aspiring young MS and Youth distance runners aiming to be their best?

Graham- Knowing when to take time off and understanding that running isn't what defines you as a person are two important skills to have! Although you should take training seriously, you'll never get anywhere if you don't learn how to enjoy the process.  Additionally, sprinting the first 800m of a 5k at 100% effort is generally a good idea if you want to PR.

Thanks for your time, and best of luck Graham!