The runners are all members of the Fast Twitch Track Club coached by Randy Ashley of Asheville. The Haywood County runners are also helped by Brad Dodson, who leads a county running club.
The Foot Locker Regionals were held recently in Charlotte and included runners from 15 southeastern states. This is one of the premier cross country events in the nation for prep runners. Athletes from the region who had best times in the 5K race included:
• Christopher Lile of Waynesville, who was 35th in the senior boys race with a time of 16:32. His previous best time was 17:12.
• Jacob Franklin of Maggie Valley, who was 25th in the sophomore race with a time of 16:27. His previous best time was 17:14.
• Damon Lubinski of Waynesville was 153rd in the junior race with a time of 18:00. His previous best time was 19:22.
Also, FTTC member Ashlyn Blakely of Franklin recently came in first place in the N.C. Junior Olympic Championship Race.
Ashley said the results were significant for several reasons.
“This shows that the non-traditional high school season can be highly beneficial. The major difference is that we did five cross country races while the high school teams did around 12-13,” Ashley said. “Racing less is part of the recipe for a stronger peak, as displayed by these runners.”
Most of the runners on the FTTC team train and compete outside of their high school programs. Ashley said that makes their results that much more commendable.
“As for training outside of the school system, yes it is difficult, but these kids are focused on improvement and so their motivation is the key factor in reaching their goals,” he said. “The kids often train alone or with small groups and simply need to be told what to do and do not need someone standing over them.”