Before the class of 2019 makes their final farewells to high school cross country and track and field, we want to give everyone a chance to salute them one more time! FLRunners invites all seniors to tell their stories from the past four years.
What was your most memorable race/throw/jump/vault/moment?
I have to say that the most memorable race for me was the Florida Relays 1600 invite my senior year. I wanted to run three races in high school: 3200 at FSU Relays, 1600 at the Florida Relays, and any race at a state meet. So, when I finally made it into the huge race at UF my senior year my mindset for running changed. I was not sure where I was headed for college yet and I had not heard much back from any college coach for running, so I assumed that maybe running post high school was not my calling. However, when I found myself with all these top athletes- whose names appear in rankings and such, but I've never really had the opportunity to race before- I gave it my all and threw down a seven second PR in the 1600. After that I knew that I would continue running in college.
Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years?
Onix Ortiz. This beast of an athlete has the heart of a lion and I honestly do not like racing him. The only reason I ran fast sophomore year was to outkick this freshman that came out of nowhere. I like fast kids when they are on my team, but when they move to Windermere it sure makes local meets a whole lot tougher. He may have the better hair, but I do not let that faze me on the track when he must look at mine (sorry Onix).
What was your greatest accomplishment?
My greatest accomplishment was going to States as a team for the first time in West Orange history as a part of the boys' cross-country team my senior year. It only took four years to convince four other lads that running is just a mental sport.
Who would you consider your biggest role model over your four years competing?
Coach Morris was my biggest role model over my high school running career. His vision was for us to envision. We had to see the race before it happened. We had to make mistakes before they happened. We had to prepare for the worst. I've never met a man with a voice so influential, whose words prepared us not only for a race, but also for life. He was a father to me & I am forever grateful.
If you could do it all over again what would you change about your running or field career in high school?
I would train seriously starting the summer before my freshman year of high school instead of the summer before my senior year of cross country. I would also sign up for one of those team running camps to instill fear on Olympia and Windermere like they did to us. On a more serious note, I would create a fake team of robots with similar jerseys to stand in a porta-potty line before every cross country race so that when I need to go some five times before my race I can do so care-freely, instead of thirty seconds before my race with no toilette paper available. I'm sure my teammates would appreciate this tactic too.
What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome? How did you overcome them?
The wall in Tallahassee. I'm not sure how many warped walls tall this thing is, but I'm certain that peaking the Himalayas is easier. I never really overcame this brutal obstacle, but I ran at the clay loop in Clermont every Sunday & occasionally at Sugar Loaf in Clermont too (Florida really lacks hills).
What will you miss the most?
I will miss the care-free attitude that many of my teammates *cough RJ* had in high school. From what I've heard/seen you can't really mess around in college, because you are like an employee in a business. I only started running (and continued) because of my teammates. We hung out every weekend it seemed, and most of us ate lunch together at school. Even if there was some drama going on, I never really cared too much because I knew that kind of stuff is inherent, and people/teams always undergo hardships. I just loved going straight from calculus to the smiling faces of my friends after school. We were like a family. I don't think many other things in my life could bring me that satisfaction that high school running could.
What advice would you give to younger athletes?
Find whatever music *cough the Beatles* boats your float *cough Queen* and run with it *cough Elton John* because nobody, and I say "NOBODY!" wants to *cough Billy Joel* run ten miles at like 6 am in the morning on a Sunday during the school year *cough The Beach Boys.* Also, hit the gym. Colton, you aren't really all that big, and only squatting heavy weights doesn't cut it. Please email college coaches prior to your senior year (the summer right before is perfect) & always be polite with them. Create a resume and just build off it as life goes on. Do summer training. Mileage depends on the runner. Never settle. Always strive to beat the seniors and the school records.
What influence has your coach had with respect to your performance and overall life goals?
Everything. The only reason I performed well during my high school years was because of Coach Morris. He was an extraordinary salesman, a loving parent, and an excellent coach, all of which contributed greatly to my success. He never let kids on my team go home without a meal in their stomachs, and he knew how to cope with any child's mental illnesses. Even if he didn't know how to solve a problem that arose, he never had that look cross his face, and he said to never let an opponent see that weak face during a race either. He told me that Steve Prefontaine always ran a race "to see who has the most guts."
What are your post-high school or college plans?
I am going to further my running career as a mid-distance runner at the Georgia Institute of Technology. From there we shall see what happens next.
Who would you like to say 'thank you' to?
Thank you to my grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, sisters, mom, and dad for all coming out to watch me and cheer me on. Mom, thanks for letting me "EAT FRESH" with Subway sandwiches at the MEATS. Thank you to all my friends and teammates for putting up with my puns (such as the latter). Thank you coaches for going above and beyond what you considered part of your jobs.
Thank you to all my competition, for this sport would be useless without such- it would be like going to one of Matt Boling's meets. Shout out to Jackson Moegel. Thank you to the Academy for hosting this wonderful event…
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Here is a quick sonnet:
Why do I run, for is it ultimately that fun?
Sweat, which is not sweet I enjoy so dearly,
For if you and I are chased by grizzly, done
Are you for you do not; sincerely…
Abs, which capture the eyes of Narcissus,
Are not so prominent in football.
Skinny, I prefer refined.
Our workouts are defined. However, we stall.
Yeah, but don't we get to watch sunsets,
Climb mountains, and go to beaches?
We prepare for many years and travel far by jets
Only to run or watch a four-minute race and hear screeches.
To run, or no to run, that is the question.
Answer it to your own discretion.
P.S. I can write a sonnet faster than I can run a 5k.
P.S.S. If you do not believe me, ask my senior year literature teacher.