When Athens Bible cross country coach Brad Murrell asked his runners to set personal goals, Ryan Crews had a number in mind.
Then he had another. And then another.
Every goal that Crews sets gets shattered. For the Athens Bible junior, a personal record has trumped an individual goal twice this season.
So, is this is a case of Crews setting his sights too low? Not really. Based on Crews’ current personal record, he is competitive among some of the state’s top Class 1A-2A runners, and the junior expects to compete for a top 15 finish next month at the state championships.
The ceiling for success is high for Crews — both on and off the cross country trails. A three-sport athlete at Athens Bible and a television enthusiast, Crews lives a well-rounded lifestyle that includes high academic standards. Crews met with Decatur Daily sports writer Justin Graves on Monday to answer five questions:
Question: When did you realize that cross country was a sport you would enjoy?
Answer: I started running when I was about halfway through the seventh grade, and when I was in the eighth grade and we ran a the Jesse Owens Classic, I had a top 15 finish. That’s when I said, ‘This is kind of cool. I think I can be good at this.’ I’ve been committed to running ever since.
Q: Distance running can be both mentally and physically exhausting. When competing in a 5K, how do cope with the mental aspect?
A: That’s a good question with a funny answer. When I’m running and start thinking about how tired I am, I usually start thinking about different episodes of Friends. I’ve seen every episode, and I know I can run for the length of an entire episode. I know it sounds kind of odd, but It’s been a good philosophy that gets me through a race.
Q: Just how much time have you shaved off this season?
A: When we started the season, I just wanted to get under 19 minutes. I got that, so I started thinking about what our team could do if I got under 18:30. I ran an 18:07 this year at the Limestone race, and after that, Coach (Murrell) came up and said, ‘I think you underestimated yourself with those goals.’ Now I’m pushing for a 17:45, and if I can get there, we’ve got a really good shot to do something special.
Q: Has this season been what you expected?
A: It’s been more than what I expected. We have such a competitive team, and it’s easier to get out there and work because we’re all pushing each other. On this team, we have seven people in 10th grade or above, but it’s a lot of the younger kids who have helped us most they’ve pushed us so hard.
Q: What is your favorite sport
A: Along with the cross country, I play basketball and soccer. As for my favorite? That’s probably a tie between cross country and soccer. It’s tough to pick between the two.
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