Flrunners.com: What was your most memorable race/moment?
Luke Peterson: The North Port Invitational XC meet last September was extremely memorable. I wiped out and got a face full of mud right at the start and got up and won the race by .05 seconds after a thrilling photo-finish.
FLR: Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years?
LP: The Tampa Bay area was very strong for distance running throughout my middle school and high school career. From 6th grade until 10th grade, my former teammate Ross Porter pushed me to my limits in every meet and practice. Patrick McNamara and I had numerous showdowns from 2011-2015; every time I raced Cal Davidson Turner in the mile, we both PR'd. The past two seasons, Noah Perkins has been a great friend and "rival," and I had to bring my very best every time we stepped on the line together.
FLR: What was your greatest accomplishment?
LP: The State meet at IMG this past May was the perfect ending to my Shorecrest running career. Winning the 800, 1600 and 4x800 was something I had dreamed about but never truly thought was possible. My teammates (all seniors) on the 4x800 are some of my best friends, and winning a state title with them is something I'll never forget.
FLR: If you could do it all over again, what would you change about your running career in high school?
LP: My only regret is not putting in the mileage needed to compete at a high level all four years. The offseason before my senior track season was the first time I ever consistently put in solid mileage in the offseason, and I saw it pay off in the spring; I can only imagine what could've been had I shown a better work ethic throughout the duration of my time in high school.
FLR: What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?
LP: Injuries were an issue for me the past two years. I sustained a severe ankle sprain playing club soccer my junior track season and was only able to get two weeks of training in before the postseason began. After doing a road race 5K during this past track season, shin splints began to cause me difficulties. Both of these injuries were caused from non-track related occurrences, so I'd like to think they taught me how to be a smarter athlete during the season.
FLR: What will you miss the most?
LP: I'll definitely miss my teammates the most without a doubt. From our memories at the App State XC Camp to our countless music-filled bus rides to whacky socks/short shorts to winning the first regional XC title in school history and the 4x800 at states, I enjoyed almost every second of our time together (except when we'd get a 20 minute lecture from Coach Dillon and be forced to drink beet juice).
FLR: What advice would you give to younger athletes?
LP: Give it your all, and it'll pay off. Running XC/track hurts, but the feeling after a PR or a strong performance individually or as a team is always worth the pain. On race day, I've thrown up countless times, been spiked multiple times, been hit by a bike, and gotten tripped by a teammate (thanks Scoby), but I'd go through that all again 100 times without hesitation because every challenge taught me something and it was all worth it in the end.
FLR: What influence has your coach had with respect to your performance and overall life goals?
LP: Coach Dillon came to Shorecrest two years ago to coach the distance runners, and in that time, he significantly changed me as a runner. He saw something in me that I didn't always see, and his confidence and guidance helped me run times I didn't think I had in me. Coaching a group of teenage boys is tough, and often, his lectures on nutrition or the keys to running went in one ear and out the other with us, but running is his passion, and he never gave up trying to help us improve on a daily basis. He taught me how to become a more complete runner and how to love running itself, and I'll miss him and his sayings that were hard to understand due to his soft-spokenness and Jamaican accent and sometimes left us wondering what he truly meant.
FLR: What are your college plans?
LP: I will be attending UNC-Chapel Hill and plan on studying business and sports administration while being a member of the XC/track team there.
FLR: Who would you like to say thank you to?
LP: I have to thank my parents first off. Without them, I never would've started running, and their support along the way opened up so many amazing opportunities for me. To all of my coaches over the years, Coach Tony at Running Soles, Coach Joe at Forerunners, Coach Hank, Coach Darrow, Coach Dror, Coach Garcia, Coach Cameron, Coach Dillon, Coach Pope, and Coach Raab, thank you so much for all the workouts, advice, and support you've given me over the years; earning a spot at a D1 program has been my goal for the past six years, and I can't imagine achieving this goal without you all.