High Five: Harding recaps great race

Published 4:13 pm Thursday, November 10, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Northside sophomore Andrew Harding takes a measured, tactical approach to running cross country and it paid off with a third place finish in last weekend’s 1A state meet in Kernersville. He covered the 5K course in 17:20, 34 seconds off the winning pace. The Bath, N.C. native played baseball growing up, then followed his older brother onto the Panthers cross country team. He also runs the 800, 4 x 800 relay, the mile and two-mile events on the track team in the spring.

  1. Third out of over 100 runners in the state meet is a tremendous accomplishment. What was your thought process before the race?

Andrew: Everyone’s goal is to win, but I seriously thought I had a shot. My times have steadily improved this fall and I felt like I could hang with the guys at the front of the pack. I knew my speed was good enough if I got out fast.

  1. How did this year’s race unfold?

Andrew: There are so many runners bunched together at the start, so the first objective was to not fall down. Then, it was to not get boxed in, which did happen. I was stuck for the first half mile, but I noticed the guy who ended up finishing second was right beside me. When he made his move to the outside to break away, I went with him. Both of us caught up to the front of the pack soon after. I was planning on trying to take the lead at the two mile mark, but realized I would use up too much energy and not have enough to finish strong. I was fifth coming into the last 200 meters, but had enough left to pass two guys to finish third. That’s when I knew my training paid off.

  1. Keanu Dugan was Northside’s top runner last year and is running at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory. How did he help you last year?

Andrew: His support and leadership meant a lot to me and still does. He came to the state meet to cheer me on and offer advice. I could hear him shouting out my times and telling me to push it. We’ve talked for the last month figuring out a race plan and training strategy. Last year, he showed me how to train and what approach to take toward races.

  1. How did you get into and learn to like running?

Andrew: My older brother, Jordan, was on the cross country team last year and I followed him along to practice. I hadn’t done it before my freshman year, but my times were good and I was hanging close to Keanu later in the year, so I decided to stick with it. The best part is to see my times keep dropping and I enjoy the training it takes to make them keep improving.

  1. What are your goals for the upcoming track season and your two remaining cross country seasons?

Andrew: I want at least one state championship in track. I am aiming for a 4:25-4:30 time in the mile and around 9:45 in the two-mile. I also think I can run a two minute 800. I would also like to win a cross country title. The guy who won this year is a freshman, so we’ll see.  The 1A state record in cross country is 15:31. It will be fun to try to beat that.