Few things thrill me more than seeing a high school distance runner work hard and achieve some measure of success. Just across my neighborhood lives a coach who in the six years that I've been here has had two unbelievably talented runners in his program. Jeff Sommers is a great high school coach as well as being a top flight masters competitor.
When I first moved here he had a runner, Bona Jones. She ended up being a Footlocker finalist and finished second at the junior nationals in cross country in 2007. Bona went to North Carolina State where injuries have slowed her down.
Now Jeff's coaching a young runner I've mentioned before on this blog, Erick Montoya. Erick's made his mark his first two years in the 3200. A couple of weeks ago Jeff told me he was hoping that Montoya was ready for a fast 1600 at the Florida Relays. He was. Erick clocked a 4:15.47, a personal best by more than ten seconds over the weekend. Given his fast times in the 3200, I'd like to think that Erick is looking at breaking 9 minutes in the next two years. He's just a junior.
So is a young man who will remain nameless that has already made a name for himself in cross country in the Sunflower State. Some of you may guess the name of this individual. His father was a very dear friend in high school and college. Somehow he's managed to raise a star athlete who appears to have kept the priorities in order. I don't know how he's done it.
His son is a very good runner, even better academically, and has excelled in other pursuits outside of running. I can't begin to state how much I admire what this father has done with and for his son and his other children as well. He's proud of his boy's accomplishments to be sure, but my impression from afar is that he's not trying to push him one way or the other. The restraint is remarkable. I don't think if I had raised a budding star, I could have kept my perspective.