How was graduation for you this year with a pandemic?
It felt very different. I am just so thankful to Greenville County Schools for allowing us to have an in-person graduation. We practiced social distance throughout the whole process and sanitized at every opportunity. Although it was very short notice and we did not have a graduation practice, it went very smoothly and I was very thankful to see my friends and teachers for potentially the last time.
Reflect back on your xc/tf career.
I started running competitively in middle school for the team at Langston Charter Middle School; I would be lying if I said I was good. My two mile time was 15:04. I started running for Mann my freshman year and through Coach McAtee's training I saw a huge improvement in my time and ran 20:49 in 5K. I would say sophomore year was when I started seriously training and making running a priority and that year I ran 17:49 for 5K. My sophomore year track season I suffered through hip inflammation and did not make much progress and this stretched to the beginning of junior year XC. For my senior year, I set my goal to break 17 in the 5K and I did so at the Greenville County Meet at Woodmont. I fully thank Coach McAtee for his training regimens and for always pushing us to strive for positive change whether it was on the track, in the classroom, or just as a person. I was lucky enough to have an amazing group of guys that pushed me and never let me settle on one race. It was great because almost all of us were at the same level of fitness so we could work out and push each other together. These guys are still some of my best friends and the memories I made with them are ones I will cherish forever.
Tell us about planning the two mile run and why?
The sub-10 two mile barrier was one that I wanted to break since my sophomore year of track. That was the year I broke 11 and I knew that by senior year I needed to break ten. After running 10:14 at Dorman Distance Carnival, I knew I would be able to do it, however a couple days after that the season was cancelled. My coach very quickly set up a training schedule as well as some time trials in which I progressed from 10:16 to 10:06. After a not so great cross country season, I felt like I owed it to myself to do something big for track and even though the season was cancelled, I was not going to let that get in the way of my plans. I have always loved the two mile as an event, I felt that it was a true physical and mental test to be able to focus for that long and not fall off the pace. Going into the single digits in my mind was what separated the boys from the men and I wanted so badly to be known as a "sub-10 guy" before I graduated.
What does it mean to you to achieve your goal?
It really means everything. All the solo miles put in as part of preseason training finally paying off and actually seeing results for all my hard work makes everything worth it.
What was it like for you to miss your senior season because of the pandemic?
I remained optimistic until the last moment, however I am so grateful to Coach McAtee for keeping us focused and making sure that the seniors get at least some chances to prove themselves. Coach always made sure we were motivated to work whether it was for school or running.
What are your future plans?
I will be attending the University of Michigan to study mechanical engineering with a minor in public policy. I hope to work in research development in the automobile industry and advance the policy debate surrounding electric vehicles in the long run.
Of course Coach McAtee, my family, and my team of brothers. I'd like to shout out the boys and give a special shoutout to Gabe Engel and Thomas McDonough for continuing to train with me and help me out even after our school went out.