Salute to seniors: Cody Clark

What was your most memorable race/competition?
The most memorable race of my cross country career was my very first one. I came in as an inexperienced runner who did not really know what to expect. I had butterflies like you would not believe. They shot the gun, and I took off onto the course. I found myself running pretty well, sticking toward the middle of the pack for the majority of the time. I crossed the finish line in the neighborhood of 21:30, and as soon as I grabbed some water I threw up everywhere. I had given every ounce of effort I had, and had zero left in the tank. But it was that moment where I realized I could overcome the pain and work toward being a good runner. In track, it was at the Henry Woodward Invitational at Heathwood Hall this year. I was entered in the 3200m and the 1600m. Porter Gaud and Trinity were there, so we knew there were other strong schools there. I had a decent seed in the 3200m, and the race began in the morning. I pounded out my first mile in 5:25. I knew I could get my PR if I pushed myself. The was a PG runner, one of my teammates, and a kid from Pinewood in front of me. I was drafting them the entire time, and about lap 6 I said to myself that I was going to win this race. I continued to draft them, and on the final lap with about 125m to go I let out a yell, cut to the outside, and sprinted down the final stretch for the win and my PR 10:46. Next up was the 1600m. I hit 73 my first lap and knew I had a chance at breaking 5 for the first time. So coming around the final 200m and closing, I let out another scream like I had done earlier and passed two guys to get third and my PR of 4:57. On top of that we brought the trophy back to WH, which made what was already a great day for me that much better.

Where did you face your biggest competition?
My biggest competition came at the SCISA state track and cross country meets, as well at the SCTCCCA Coaches Classic. Those races featured the best competition in SCISA, and in Coachess Classic, you get the best of the whole state in one place. Bishop England was. Another place that always offered stiff competition my two years. 

Out of all of your high school accomplishments, which stands out the most?
Earning a spot on the all-region team this year being it my senior year was awesome. We had four of the five runners that made up the all-region team, so that was really special. I won the coach's award this year in cross country, and that as really special to me to be honored with an award that the coach picks. During the track banquet, I was presented with a pretty prestigious award from Ms. Ard for character and work ethic, and I was extremely thrilled to get that as well. And of course my personal bests of 4:57 in the 1600m, 10:46 in the 3200m, and a 17:52 5k time. 

If you could do it all over again, what would you change about your athletic career in high school?
I know people always say they would not change a thing, but that is really how I feel. I had a great high school sports career, and I did well in classroom as well. I am so blessed to have been able to get such an opportunity. The only thing I might do differently is start earlier. I did to start XC or track until junior year and would have loved to add another year or two of experience. But that genuinely is the only thing that I would alter if anything.

What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?
Probably the biggest thing was figuring out some of the mental aspects of running in races. I already have a good mind for competition, but cross country and track are as much mental fortitude as physical ability. That is where I made my living. I was never the favorite to win a race, but I sure as heck was not going to let someone else outwork me. And with that attitude, I was able to slash my times down about three minutes to 17:52 over my two years in high school. 

What will you miss the most?
Practice, meets and races, bus rides, meals with teammates, all the sweat shed together during tough workouts, and all the fun times we had throughout the seasons together are just some of the things that I will miss am going to miss my teammates and coaches a lot. On the track team we had a large team with a lot of athletes including a lot of younger athletes and I hate that I will not be there to see them grow, but I know they will all be just fine. Also, I am going to miss wearing that Wilson Hall across my chest. It was an honor to run for a school with such great tradition, and I really am going to miss wearing that Baron Blue.

Do you have any advice for younger athletes? 
My advice to younger athletes would be to keep your priorities straight (grades then sports!), the word "can't" does not exist in life and sports, and give 110% in everything you do, both on and off the field of competition. If you can look at yourself in the mirror at the end of each day and honestly say that you gave your maximum effort in everything you did, then all the other things will take care of themselves. And also, have fun! Because racing should be just as fun as it is physically and mentally demanding. Stay focused, stay driven, and stay determined, and you will be able to do anything in life!

How have your coaches influenced your performances and your life goals overall?
My track coaches Stacey Ard, Linda Crabbe, Joe Bonnett, Big Blue (Coach Tomlin), Josh Jennings and Kurt Wilson and my cross country coach Tom O'Hare have all been extremely influential in my life. Special thanks to Coach O'Hare, who got me into the sports after watching me run suicides at basketball practice. Each coach has always demanded the absolute best out of me each and every moment. Each of them has helped me to become not only a better racer on the track and on the course, but they have also taught me how to carry myself as a better person and as a better leader. I will never forget the things that they have done for me. 

What are your college plans?  
I will be attending Waldorf College, an NAIA member institution in Forest City, Iowa where I will be running cross country and track. I am also going to major in Communications, as I wish to become a sports radio/television broadcaster. If that does not workout, I also plan on taking some education classes so I can become a coach and hopefully work my way up to the collegiate level coaching cross country and track and/or basketball.

I'd like to give a shout out to my parents (Laura and Craig) and my three brothers (Cory, Chase and Canyen) first and foremost. They have shown me so much support and love over the course of my life endeavors thus far. I am forever indebted to them. I'd also like to give a shout-out to my fellow senior classmates who graduated alongside me. The future is bright for you all and I wish every one of you the absolute best of luck in anything and every thing that you undertake. And for my teammates who still have time left running for WH. Give everything you've got everyday and have fun. I will be following you all from Iowa as best I can!