It wasn’t long ago that Sid Vaughn scoffed at the notion he’d one day run sub-16 minute 5Ks.
The Lakeside High School senior needs only to remember conversations he had with Atom Young, a third-place finisher at state for the Panthers at the 2008 state cross country meet.
“My freshman year, he ran a 16:15,” Vaughn said of Young. “I remember I used to run with him, and he’d give me rides home before I had my (driver’s) license. … He was telling me how I was going to beat his PRs (personal records).
“I was like, ‘No way, man.’ ”
Not only has Vaughn beaten his predecessor’s times; he’s shattered them. It’s put him and his Lakeside team in the position of being among the favorites for the Class AAAA title at the State Cross Country Championships on Nov. 5 in Carrollton.
Vaughn has not lost to a AAAA runner all season.
The senior has twice set a new personal best this season: 15:34 at the Bob Blastow Early Bird in August, and then 15:25 at the Asics Invitational earlier this month.
His coach, Jerry Meitin, believes those times are less impressive than the ones he ran to win the season-opening meet at Blanchard Woods Park and the Sept. 17 Milton XC Invitational.
That’s because he set course records at both of them, while wrapping up two of his four individual titles. He’s finished second and third in his other two races in challenging fields.
“It’s the fastest anybody has ever run the course,” Meitin said while reiterating how meaningful the achievement is. “Even better than the adults who had run it. The Atlanta Track Club runs events (at Milton).
“It’s not the 15s that are impressive,” he added. “It’s what he does on the hard courses, where the hills are so challenging.”
That Meitin mentioned Vaughn’s stellar work on hills is significant. That’s because, for a long time, Vaughn couldn’t even run hills because of a medical condition.
When he was young, Vaughn was diagnosed with arteriovenous malformation. It resulted in a clot of blood vessels wrapped around his Achilles’ tendon. He had two surgeries, one when he was young and another when it came back just before he entered high school.
Still feeling loads of pain while running during his early high school years, Vaughn flew to Colorado for a medical procedure that involved injecting an alcohol solution into his leg to kill off any remaining troublesome blood vessels.
Now healthy, Vaughn said he appreciates even more being able to compete in the sport.
During the summer, he increased his training from 50 miles a week to 60. He even ran 80 miles in each of two weeks spent at a Nike running camp in North Carolina.
“He has worked hard; he’s been a real leader,” Meitin said. “And he doesn’t complain. There are days you can tell he’s tired because we’ve worked him hard, but he doesn’t complain. … He’s that driven to be a contender for the state title.”