There was a time when Atom Young was running too much.
In the fall, the Lakeside High School senior would run six miles for cross country practice and then run another three miles or so the same day with the school's JROTC Raiders program.
The grueling schedule took its toll. Young contracted mononucleosis and spent the remainder of his senior cross country season battling the illness.
He continued to race, finishing third at the Class AAAA meet and hitting his personal best at a later race. But he wasn't 100 percent.
"I felt like I couldn't push myself as hard as I could have," Young said.
But he did enough to garner attention. Young signed a letter of intent Feb. 4 to run cross country and track for The Citadel in Charleston, S.C.
With his JROTC experience and now having his way paid at The Citadel, Young said a military career could be in his future. He said his Raiders training helped him on the track and cross country course, despite the drain on his immune system.
"I think Raiders was what mainly led me towards being a good runner," Young said. "I realized I could run and keep up with the seniors. I could take something half my weight -- like a 50-pound rucksack -- and run with it."
Young used his passion for running to create a successful senior project. He organized a 5k run at the school that attracted nearly 100 runners. The event raised $2,100 for the Panthers' track program, which was enough to resurrect Lakeside's pole vault program and purchase new hurdles.
The event also raised the awareness of the Lakeside Parent Athletic Association, which offered to help after learning of the condition of some of the track program's equipment.
"That was a positive impact we didn't expect," Lakeside community coach Ken Bowles said.
Adding pole vault should help the Panthers' team scores during track season. Individually, Bowles joked with Young that the senior can't leave for Charleston without winning a state championship.
Young participated on the Panthers' wrestling squad before the 2008 track season. Bowles said that Young had committed his months in between to base training and should emerge strong.
The two Marist runners who finished ahead of him at the Class AAAA state meet should be Young's primary competition during the spring's distance events.
Young will not have to worry about friend and former region rival Taylor Snyder. The Greenbrier runner will compete in Class AAAAA this season. But Young said he welcomed the friendly competition.
"I mainly look at it as an honor to run with him," Young said. "We always help each other get better times."
Young will soon have a fresh set of competitors. He said The Citadel assistant cross country coach Kris Kut told Young he'd probably run in the varsity's top seven.
As for his training schedule, Young said he will probably maintain his 45-mile per week pace. But it will probably be carried out with a closer eye on his health.
"He's really come to the track strong," Bowles said.
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