Delaney Graham excels in cross country, soccer

The fall sports season has just kicked off with football, volleyball, and cross country.
Each sport has their senior star, and for the girls cross-country team, it is senior Delaney
Graham is going to Duke next year to play soccer, but many people may not know that
she is also a star on the cross-country team. She believes that cross country benefits her greatly in
“The endurance part of cross-country helps me be really fit for soccer,” she stated. “It
helps me be a better player.”
Endurance is the key in cross-country, and also in soccer. Cross-country helps athletes
stay in shape for all sports. Varsity girls cross-country coach Amy Eubanks also believes that
endurance training gives Graham an edge in soccer.
“The endurance training helps her for sure, but also the hill training we do,” Eubanks
Delaney’s skill and hard work on the cross-country gives her an edge in soccer, and helps
her be a faster and more complete player.
It is not only her talent that helps her on long runs, but also her drive. Her hard work and
dedication to cross-country is demonstrated in time trials and meets as she was named to the
ATC First-Team last year, and ran the third fastest time out of all classifications at last year’s
state meet.

In cross-country, mental toughness plays a huge role in who comes on top in the end. To
have the strength to push through the last leg of a race is something that many runners do not
“During a race, there’s nothing that can prepare you for the third mile of a 5k, it’s just all
guts,” states senior runner Sam Blau.
The sport itself is physically taxing on the body, which leads to many runners having pre-
race rituals or superstitions before or during the race. In Graham’s case, she writes a bible verse
or an inspirational word on her wrist that can help her get through the run, and also wears a
Westminster ribbon at home meets.
As a senior leader, Eubanks believes that Graham brings a different type of energy to the
team, and so do the other girls on the team. Graham stays after she has crossed the finish line to
cheer her teammates every race, and all of the other runners look up to her as a leader.
“She’s taught me to never give up, and to keep pushing. It’s important to support the
team, because it’s not necessarily all about yourself and your personal times, but it’s about
helping the team,” says sophomore runner Katherine Vuckovic.
Many may think that cross-country is not a very team oriented sport, but it truly is, as
everyone needs to play their own role. Cross-country can have its ups and downs, which is why
it is always important to have a supporting team around you full of runners who want to always
put the team first.
As a senior, Graham hopes to have her best year of her career, and to make the most of
her last year.
“Cross-country has been one of the most influential high school experiences for me,
mostly because it has taught me to keep pushing myself through difficult situations,” she states.

Graham has learned valuable life lessons through cross-country and Eubanks, and she
hopes that runners younger than her will also learn from her.

Photo credit Clyde Click
Graham finished second in the GHSA state meet last season.