GRACEVILLE — Hunter Potts wants to record a personal-best time in Saturday’s Class 1A state cross country meet. If he does, he could walk away with a championship.
The Graceville senior is poised for his final opportunity at a title. This is the second straight year he has qualified for state, finishing 37th in a time of 17 minutes, 28 seconds as a junior. He’s since improved, not only on the course but in the training room and is considered one of the favorites entering this weekend’s meet at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee.
Potts is among three individuals and two teams, Arnold and Wewahitchka, in events in Class 1A, 2A and 3A. All meets will be held at the same park starting with the 2A girls race at 8 a.m.
Potts has reshaped his body and shaved time off his runs, so much so that he blistered the District 1-1A field in 15:29. It was a personal-best for Potts and the effort would have won state in 2011. Potts placed second at the regional meet in 16:14 in a finish where he didn’t need to extend himself too hard to advance.
Potts said the record district run came after a string of injuries, including shin splints, knee and lower back ailments.
“That was coming back from all those injuries, finally got back into feeling pretty good,” Potts said. “I wasn’t sore that day, I made sure I’d be ready to race.”
Potts felt steady throughout the district march, which would have won state by 10 seconds last year.
“You can kind of tell when you’re running well, it seems like the faster you go the less tired you are for some reason,” Potts said. “I was in a zone. Sometimes you’re just feeling it.”
He hopes the same can be said on Saturday when he not only will chase a title but aims to show college recruiters he’s worthy of a spot on a team at the next level. He said he has fielded interest from some Division II schools in Georgia with the goal to receive a flyer from one in Florida.
Potts is aware a top finish and low time will help him prove he’s one of the elite runners in Northwest Florida. To do that, he is using the same training regimen that served him well in the district and regional meets. There was heavy running early in the week and it’s tapered off before receiving needed rest.
Training included a 12-mile run on Sunday and shorter dashes on Monday. The load decreased on Tuesday and Potts will use the two-hour drive to Tallahassee to prepare his mind. He won’t be going with teammates, but he will have a small contingent in attendance for support.
Potts said the solitude will help him focus. The same was true of his senior year, which took on a new level of commitment.
“Last year a lot of what I did was in-season,” Potts said. “This year, I did a lot more stuff over the summer, got more muscle.
“Each year you get a little bit faster. You have to train harder if you want to get to regionals and state consistently.”
Area state cross country qualifiers:
All meets on Saturday
- Graceville:Hunter Potts
- Wewahitchka:Micah Lister, Joshua Epps, Jakob Bidwell, Jason Haire, Elijah Sarmiento, Shaquille Scott, Colby Gay
- Blountstown:Hannah Plazarin
- Arnold:Mikayla Hodges, Michaela Ashley, Camille Basin, McKenna Hyman, Chrsitina Gaillard
- Mosley:Aaron Jane