At the recent TAPPS State Cross Country Meet, senior Harrison Grant made school history by becoming the first Eagle runner ever to clinch an individual state championship in the sport. Grant finished with a final time of 16:12, a full ten seconds ahead of the second place finisher and recording one of the fastest times in state championship history.
The victory was not a huge surprise, as Grant had been blazing past the competition for the majority of the season. But nonetheless, the moment still left him in shock and disbelief.
“It’s really kind of surreal. When I came to St. Thomas I wanted to leave my mark and be remembered for something, and I think I finally did that by winning state. Being the first from St. Thomas, that’s really special. All of the great runners that have come through St. Thomas and I am the first, that’s unbelievable to me.”
-Harrison Grant, record-setter
Athletic Director Mike Netzel was present at the meet to see Grant’s accomplishment firsthand and knew just how much it meant to the senior runner.
“I was standing about five feet from Harrison when he crossed the finish line,” Netzel said, “and the look on his face, you simply could tell this meant something special to him.”
Cross country coach Nathan Labus says Grant is one of the hardest working members on the team.
“We got out of school in June and Harrison was running every day since to improve his performance,” Labus said. “I knew it was a goal of his that he wanted to accomplish. He has a lineage at this school and he wanted to do something to get his name up there with his dad, brother and uncles.”
The soft-spoken senior has flown under the radar in recent years due to the success of former runners John Cantu (’11), Nicholas Matthews (’13) and Jo Alan Castilleja (’13), all of whom have gone on to run cross country at the collegiate level. But Grant says their presence was more beneficial and that he learned from the success of his former teammates.
“I’ve run with three current college runners since I’ve been at St. Thomas,” Grant said. “They showed me I could keep getting better through hard work.”
In regards to his family legacy at the school, Grant might not have won a team state championship like his relatives. But winning the individual state championship means a great deal to him. Netzel feels Grant is one of the most humble people throughout the school, let alone cross country.
“The team may have been disappointed that they did not win state. But instead of mourning they were able to celebrate with Harrison for his achievement. And Harrison is the type of guy that if he could share his medal with the rest of the team, he would do it in an instant.”
-Mike Netzel, Athletic Director
Grant’s achievement can be attributed to hours of his hard work and his knowledge during his time on the team. Now that he is a senior, Grant has set the precedent for his underclassmen teammates to strive towards.
“I hope that our underclassmen start to realize how good our program is if they work as hard as they can,” Grant said.
“I really hope I helped the underclassmen get better so they can have the chance to win a team state championship one day.”