Senior Salute: McKenna Croft of Douglas County


5k XC:    17:36.35

3200m:  11:03.83

1600m:  5:12.96

What were some of the highlights of your high school cross country and track careers?

I am sad to leave my high school cross country and track season behind. Some highlights of my 2017 season were going to state and placing 7th and getting to run with all of the great seniors we had that year like Jordan Crawford, Jacob Asberry, and Jordan White. Our cross-country team was small, but like a family. That is what I loved most. The feeling that we were all there for each other.

2017 was the first year I ever ran track. I remember my first race at Chapel Hill High School where I ran the mile. That is when I knew I liked long-distance races better than the short-distance ones. I made it to state that year for the 3200m and I was so happy to even place amongst some great competitors.

Did you encounter any struggles or adversity along the way that you had to overcome?

When I went into my sophomore year cross country season, I originally found out I had melanoma on the bottom of my foot. It was disappointing not being able to compete, but I had my teammates and coaches there to give me advice and to overcome anything that tried to stop me from running. The next track season, I made progress, but I was still not where I wanted to be. The start to the 2018 cross country season was the best feeling because I was able to accomplish my goals of placing in the top 3 at state and getting to be on team Georgia. The track season went well too.

(photo by Dan McCauley)
Aside from the competition, what was the best thing about being a part of your school's program?

The last season in 2019 being the team captain was amazing. The boys team placed second at region and almost all of them broke 18 minutes. The annual cross-country trip to Helen was my favorite team bonding trip. Camping and getting to run in the mountains was something I wish I could do every day, especially with a great running group. Another favorite highlight is placing second at the Ascics Invitational because I got a personal record.

How are you coping with COVID-19 and the looming possibility that your HS track career might very well be over?

Although I did not get to have a track season this year, I feel confident that I got my sendoff through all the love and memories cherished with my team.

(photo by Dan McCauley)
What are your plans and goals for the future? Do you intend on continuing with the sport in college or in another capacity?

I am so excited to be continuing my cross country and track career at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Are there any coaches or teammates that you've worked with over the past four years that you'd like to thank?

I would like to thank Coach Hilko and Coach Forsh for being there for me no matter what and guiding me through my struggles. I would also like to thank Wataru Yamagishi for pushing me to my limits and being one of my biggest competitors. Most of all, I would like to thank God for giving me the opportunity to work hard and create an experience of a lifetime.

What advice would you give to a younger athlete who's hoping to have a successful and enjoyable high school career?

To the runners out there with a passion for the sport, know that "running is nothing more than a series of arguments in your brain that wants to stop and the part that wants to keep going." If you always stop when you face pain, you will never get anywhere. But the true feeling of freedom comes when you find a way through the pain and keep going. Future runners and my Douglas County teammates, I leave you with this quote, "to give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift." - Steve Prefontaine I wish everyone the best of luck and I will miss you all (once a tiger, always a tiger)

McKenna Croft/Big Mac