(photo by Enrique Tomas)
5k XC: 15:39.44
(photos below by Linda Fick)
What were some of the highlights of your high school cross country and track careers?
My four years in the North Oconee XCTF program, or as we say "The Titan Distance Nation," has brought me countless moments of success and happiness. I think what tops my list is placing 3rd as a team at the 2017 Cross Country State Championship. With our placing being the best in school history, you could probably assume how excited we all were. We were all determined to place well, and everyone's support for each other really got us hyped. That day we gave it our all, and that's all I could ask for from my team. I was very proud that day. Another moment would be racing at the 2018 track and field state championship. I placed 3rd in both the 1600m and 800m, PRing in both events at 4:18 and 1:55. While it was not the placing I was shooting for, both races were great fun, and I was so grateful for being able to race some of the best runners out there.
Did you encounter any struggles or adversity along the way that you had to overcome?
The biggest struggle for me in my high school career was having to miss my junior track season due to some lingering tendinitis in my left knee. I injured myself only 4 days before the first meet of the season, and I was devastated. I did lots of PT and pool running for 3 months hoping to hit the oval sometime that season, but the injury took too long to heal. It was hard watching all of my teammates run all season from the sidelines. What hurt me most was not being able to run and hang out with them at practice. I just missed the feeling. But I was determined I would get back to normal soon, and I cross trained nearly everyday, which kept my spirits up.
Aside from the competition, what was the best thing about being a part of your school's program?
Besides running, the Titan Distance Nation has blessed me with so many great memories and even better friendships. We are all truly one big family. Some of the best days I had were waking up early in the morning for 7AM training runs at the UGA IM fields with the team, followed by those great team breakfasts right after the workout. People brought bagels, muffins, pancakes, orange juice, fruits, you name it, and we all just hung out and had a good time. I loved the ultimate frisbee games after 7PM practice at North Oconee, where Coach Moore would dominate the field almost every game. Team dinners before races were a great time as well. We all got together at a teammate's house and had a great home cooked meal together, getting to know everyone on our 90 person teams. All of these activities made us all closer and formed a great big family.
Are there any coaches or teammates that you've worked with over the past four years that you'd like to thank?
My two coaches, Coach Jerrod Morse and Coach Ralph Moore, have been so influential in my life and running career. Coach Morse has been my "rock" all four years I have been at North Oconee, always keeping me in good spirits at practice and in meets, and was always be there for me. Coach Moore has been one of the greatest role models in my life. Coach Moore has not only guided me in the athletic portion of my life, but has also helped me become a better man. I have taken many of his pre-practice speeches to heart, all concerning the importance of hard work, sportsmanship, and always being kind to all. He is one of the most caring and inspirational people I know. And might I add, Coach Moore is one of the greatest jokesters I know. His puns are legendary. Both of these coaches have been truly inspirational to my life and I so glad that I have got to spend time with them.
How are you coping with COVID-19 and the looming possibility that your HS track career might very well be over?
This global pandemic has definitely taken a toll on me, as well as every other spring athlete missing their season this year. While it is sad to hear about all of the tragedies in these times, I am remaining optimistic that this issue will be resolved. In the meantime, I have been continuing training as normal, working around the limitations that all of the closures the virus has caused, finding long dirt roads and measuring out road segments to use for repeats. I have been able to truly see the joy in going out and enjoying a run, admiring the natural beauty all around me, the sounds of nature and the beautiful weather we have been having in Northeast Georgia. While the times are hard, watching our seasons pass by, I do believe the decision to postpone our seasons is in the best interest of us all, one is always a silver lining to find in everything..
What are your plans and goals for the future? Do you intend on continuing with the sport in college or in another capacity?
After high school, I am pleased to have the opportunity to continue my education and athletic career at Georgia Tech. I am very excited to get to work with my future coaches Alan Drosky and Becky Megesi, as well as all of my future teammates that I am so excited to get to know better.
What advice would you give to a younger athlete who's hoping to have a successful and enjoyable high school career?
Some advice to younger athletes who are looking to have success and enjoy their running careers is to take a look at the small things, don't take short cuts, and be grateful for all of the time you spend hitting the trails and/or track. Sometimes I feel as if some athletes don't take the warm-ups, the cool downs, and team meetings seriously. They all may seem minuscule and unimportant now, but those are the moments that matter most. Doing all of these little things brings success. Taking short cuts will get you nowhere and does not teach discipline or hard work, so always take time to make each maintenance activity the best one you've done, and always listen to what your coaches have to say, as they are the professionals and know what's best for you and you're training. And finally, enjoy every moment you have running. This a time where you can be free and take a break from the other sides of your life. It's just you, your teammates, and the environment around you.