What was your most memorable race?
My most memorable race was during my freshman cross country season. While recovering from a fractured ankle my coach wanted me to start the race and drop out instantly so that I would be in enough races to qualify for districts. I ended up running two miles of the 5k that day. Some how my cast made it the whole way and I got to take it off just three days later. My favorite memory from that race was hearing a fan say "Is he wearing a cast?" as I ran by.
Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years?
Since I was very young, Sam Mack, my neighbors grandson, would come over and I would beat him in basketball and football. When I transferred to Mandarin High as a sophomore Sam was a freshman and came out for cross country. Since then he's been trying to keep up and almost had me at the line at states where we finished 18th and 19th with a 16:14.11 and 16:14.13.
What was your greatest accomplishment?
My greatest accomplishment was at the 4A Cross Country Finals where we finished as a team as runner-up.
If you could do it all over again what would you change about your running career in high school?
I would have transfered to Mandarin as a freshman and not waited until sophomore year. Also, I would have gone out a little slower at states during cross country season.
What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?
I have been blessed with a healthy body and stayed relatively injury free over the years, but in 9th grade I fractured my ankle and had to take out the first half of my cross country season. Also, this past summer our 1,060 miles was quite an obstacle!
What will you miss the most?
I will miss the team training over summer. In the last three weeks my appreciation for team summer training has grown immensely as I have started my college training on my own.
What advice you would give to younger athletes?
I would tell them to do exactly what your coach tells you. The odds are he knows a lot more than you about running and is looking out for your best interest.
What influence has your coach had with respect to your performance and overall life goals?
Coach Schmitt has taught my teammates and myself not only how to succeed on the course and the track but also how to succeed as young men. His motto is "say nothing when you win, say even less when you lose". He expects excellence from us in the classroom and in practice and that has taught us to strive for excellence in everything that we do.
What are your college plans?
I plan to attend Southeastern University to run cross country and track with my high school teammate Rashaad Graves, St. Pete senior Sam Chandler, Baldwin senior Michael McCain, and Sarasota senior Kael Gouriluk. I plan to major in broadcasting and become a sports broadcaster.
Who would you like to say thank you to?
First of all, I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Secondly, my mother and father who have been present to every event I have thrown on them last minute and for sitting through the countless 12+ hour long track meets in the rain. Lastly, I'd like to say thank you to my ninth grade coach Andy Coffman and to Coach Schmitt who has dedicated more time in my life as my coach the last three years than anyone else.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Work hard this summer and look out for Mandarin High in the next few years, my boys are working hard and trying to improve on our second place finish at last years cross country state finals. Also shout out to Cameron McCutcheon, David Yarborough, Cash Tampa, and Austin Decker for going out of their way to talk to me at meets and best of luck to them in the future!
Want to be fetured in our Salute To Seniors series? Drop me a line: TGrasley@milesplit.com and answer the questions above! Congratulations to the class of 2013 on all their hard work and success.