Focus pays off for Panthers’ Fletcher

Published 8:35 am Thursday, November 6, 2008

By By STEVE FRANKLIN, Sports Writer
Bryant Fletcher dedicated himself to running this summer.
And this fall, the Northside junior’s commitment to the sport of cross country paid off.
After running mile-after-mile in the scorching summer sun, Fletcher was rewarded in late October by winning the Atlantic/Albemarle Individual Cross Country title. A week later, he earned All-East honors with a seventh place finish at the NCHSAA Class 1-A East Region Cross Country Championships.
And this past weekend, the junior wrapped up his season with a 52nd place finish among more than 130 runners at the NCHSAA Class 1-A State Cross Country Championships.
After emerging as the area’s top runner late in the season, Fletcher has been named the Washington Daily News’ Male Cross Country Runner of the Year.
Not bad for a kid who started running just 15 months ago.
For most of the season, Fletcher couldn’t catch Williamston’s Stephen Silverthorne.
But Fletcher kept plugging away, and in the final regular season match closed to within one second of the Tigers’ junior.
Fletcher employed that strategy at the Atlantic/Albemarle Conference Championships, and when they entered the final quarter-mile, Silverthorne was nowhere in sight. Fletcher crossed the finish line 53 seconds ahead of Silverthorne to win his first conference title.
Fletcher, who had a personal best time of 18 minutes and 12 seconds, also helped the Panthers secure their ninth straight Atlantic/Albermarle Conference crown.
Next year, Woolard and Fletcher are anticipating even more improvement.
However, Woolard thinks that Fletcher could do even better.