Wesley Curles grew stronger as a runner this year, focusing on speed work and a kick at the end of his races to help solidify wins.
Hard work paid off for the Trinity junior, winning the 3A state AHSAA cross country championships, and is this year’s Montgomery Advertiser’s All-Metro Runner of the Year.
Not only did Curles succeed individually, but the Trinity boys earned a spot in the state meet for the first time ever, where they placed fourth. Curles won in Class 3A with a time of 16:41.21 in the 5K race. His PR (personal record) this year came at sectionals, where he won with a time of 16:06.44 at Gateway Park.
Of the seven races Curles competed in, he won all but two. This is the second consecutive year the 6-foot runner has been named the Advertiser’s Runner of the Year. Curles, who plans to sit out indoor track season to play basketball, looks forward to next year’s cross country season where his goal is to beat runners from larger divisions.
Your goal last year was to win state, so now what?
“That was our focus all year, and I really just focused on peaking at state and not peaking too early which is what I thought I did the year before (he placed second in state in 2011). As far as next year, just keep my training strong and try to win state and drop some times. And maybe finish a little higher in some of those larger races with other classifications. At the Jesse Owens Classic, I just feel I could improve my times and standings with not just 3A, but in all other large races. I ran in the elite division and fell coming down the hill … it was rainy and really muddy and tough conditions. It was a good motivational tool, but it’s a rough race.”
After the state meet (in November), you talked about the last half-mile making the difference in your win over Jarrett Mason (of Catholic). Talk about that:
“The second mile was the toughest part of the race for me. The switchback hills, and (Mason, who finished second) really pushed hard on those hills. And I was able to stay with him then. After the hills, I felt like I had a really good shot to win it with my kick at the end. So from mile two to two and a half, I just tried to stay with (Mason), and then once I made my move, I felt like I had enough kick to win it.”
How has your vision or attitude toward cross country changed in the past year?
“I think this last year has been more of a team effort for everybody. We had a lot of young new runners. Six of our top 10 were in middle school. Everybody just worked really hard — them, and the veterans. I think I enjoyed running more this year. We focused on speed. You’re not going to get faster if you don’t do speed work.”
How do you prepare mentally for your races?
“I just try to stay relaxed and … try to look back to my training and remember that I put all this work in and just look back at key workouts and remember how they were pushed through then. It gave me confidence in the race.”
What are key workouts?
“Normally speed stuff; that was especially tough. My kick felt a lot stronger this year at the end of races.”
Who was your competition this year?
“Our section really was the strongest in the state as far as 3A. (Competition was) Jarrett Mason from Catholic and Rob Stokes from T.R. Miller. I got to also run against Thomas Lambert from LAMP in three or four meets, and he was one of my biggest competitors. At Spain Park, we were five seconds apart.”
When you won state, what was the last thought in your head that day?
“I can’t tell you exactly, but it definitely was one of relief. I’ve been waiting for that day for the last year since I came in second. It was relief knowing all that hard work and training paid off.”
What his coach says:
“I find him very humble, and to be a great leader for the younger kids, and we really appreciate that. I don’t know many people that begin coaching a program and have someone as naturally talented as Wesley. There are certain elements in coaching that you can’t coach, and Wesley has all those traits. There are mornings we’d practice, and it’s time for them to take showers and get ready for class, and he’s over there out in the field adding to his run, on his own. He’s very self-motivated. He works well as an individual, and works well with the team. He’s an all-around true asset that I will miss after next year, but I’m glad to have him for one more year.”
— Axel Borrero