For the first time in school history, Augusta State University actively recruited long-distance runners for its cross country team.
Evans' Amanda Griffin sits between her parents Cheryl and Wayne Griffin, as she signs a scholarship to run cross country for Augusta State University.
Photo by, Jim Blaylock
The university's first pick was Evans High School standout Amanda Griffin, who officially signed a letter of intent to run for ASU May 18.
"I never even knew they had a cross country team until I talked with one of the coaches," Griffin said.
"In the past, (Assistant Cross Country Coach Adam Ward) told me they would take basketball players and train them to run cross country. Now, they're wanting to build their cross country program and started recruiting people that can help build that program."
Griffin fit perfectly, she said.
"I want to do there what I did at Evans," she said. "We didn't have much of a cross country team a couple of years ago and I helped change that. I helped put Evans on the map. I want to do the same at ASU."
She has the talent to make it happen.
Griffin began running cross country as a junior and she made an immediate impact, Evans coach Mike Lennox said.
"Amanda has been an incredible leader and organizer for this team," he said. "She has made us a great team, largely because she is so smart and morally grounded.
"The best compliment I can think to give her is: I'm not married and I don't have any children, but if I had a daughter, I would want her to be just like Amanda."
For her part, Griffin attributes much of her success to Lennox.
"When he believes in you, you don't think there is anything you can't do," she said.
On the track, there is little the 18-year-old can't do.
With a 12:25 two-mile, Griffin shattered the school record in track last season.
Her best cross country performance, which is typically a 5-K run, came following a bout of food poisoning.
"At the end of the season, when I was in the best shape of my life, I ran 21:18, but I was so sick," she said. "If I hadn't had food poisoning, I'm sure I would have been under 20 minutes."
Despite her natural ability, it would mean little without her heart.
"I want to persevere," she said. "I want to fight through the pain and win."
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