Cross Country Takes Price Owens Across the Country

Samantha Wanderer, Arts Editor

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As the first boy in Grafton history to ever compete at the highest level of high school cross country, Footlocker Nationals, and the first boy from the Bay Rivers District since 1993, Price Owens became one of the most notable runners in the school’s history. As a junior, Price is still up-and-coming as he still has four track seasons and one more cross country season to shatter former personal records and continue to impress both his teammates and outsiders alike.

Price’s coach was there through it all, playing no small role in Price’s success along the way on his journey to nationals. “Coach Valenti is my most influential coach…he is a big reason I was in great shape, confident, and relaxed throughout the whole experience,” said Price.

For weeks after the regular season of cross country had ended with states, Coach Valenti continued to train Price and the two eighth grade boys who continued on to run at the Footlocker Regionals Race. At this race, Price ended up in 10th place with a time of 15:07, a PR for him that was aided by the relative flatness that the Footlocker South Regionals course is known for. By finishing in 10th place, Price secured his ticket to California to compete at the National level.

Price made the trek to the notably hilly Footlocker Nationals course in San Diego, California on December 8, two days before his race on the 10th. He flew alone, with Coach Valenti meeting him there for the day of the race.

As a perk of qualifying for the race, Price’s ticket and board were free, and he also was given New Balance spikes, trainers, a racing jersey, backpack, and a jacket. He enjoyed the many material benefits, as well as the quality time he was able to spend interacting with some of the country’s fastest young men. “I hung out with the national champion, one of the greatest sophomore runners in history, one of the few freshman to make it to nationals…I was also surrounded by many future Olympians…I played beach soccer and acted a fool with all of them,” said Price.

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Price Owens racing at Footlocker Nationals

 

Price “showed up” as Coach Valenti would say. He didn’t shy away from the tough competition and persevered through the difficult, hilly course to finish 30th with a time of 15:46. Both coach and runner were happy with the race and were able to come home with plenty of stories for the rest of the team.

Price is hardly done surprising both his coach and other leaders in the sport, though. Without even taking a complete week off in between cross country and track, Price ran as first leg in the 4X800 race at the second invitational of the season, getting a personal record.   “I have new high expectations,” Price said, “and hope to make it back next year and run indoor and outdoor nationals.”

Price recognizes the kind of dedication it takes to keep improving and he’s willing to keep up the hard-work his coach has come to expect from him. “This year has been one big eye opener. It showed me that as a runner I can compete at a national level and that nothing will be the same. I have to train at a new level if I want to go back next year.”