As a result of running more miles than most people could even comprehend, Chestatee High senior Luke Gaddis has put himself in a position to accomplish something quite special in the Class 4A cross country championship race Nov. 6 in Carrollton.
The War Eagles top runner is one of the favorites to win the individual state championship, while the War Eagles have the necessary depth to make a push for a team championship.
Two titles in one day?
Gaddis said that would be a dream come true.
“Lord willing, I’ll be able to do both,” said Gaddis. “We have a great team and our Top 7 are all so close to one another.”
“I’m just blessed to be on such a great team with so many good guys.”
The path to becoming an accomplished runner is not easy, regardless of physical talent.
You have to be a little unique to push your body to its absolute limit, recover and do it all again the next day.
However, from a young age, Gaddis knew he loved it.
At 5-foot-11 he doesn’t have the long stride of most of the greats, but has a relentless spirit to do his very best when he laces up his shoes and pounds the pavement and trails around Chestatee High and its Middle School.
“I’ve always been active and played all the sports as a kid,” Gaddis said. “But I dropped everything else after sixth grade to focus on running. I put all my eggs in one basket.”
Gaddis has put up plenty of amazing performances in 2020, including an eigth-place spot at the prestigious Alexander-Asics Invitational earlier this month, running a personal-best time of 15 minutes, 20 seconds. He also put up second-place showings at Hall County (15:57), North Hall Invitational (16:10) and the Northeast Georgia Championship (16:15). Each of the those races he was behind his good friend, North Hall senior and University of Virginia commit Andrew Jones, who broke its school record with a time of 14:58 at the Asics Invitational.
For Gaddis, having such elite competition so close to home is a blessing, not a curse.
“I have total respect for Andrew and we talk to each other all the time,” Gaddis said. “He’s incredibly talented.”
However, when it’s time to run, Gaddis knows he’s on his own.
“You have to go hard everyday,” Gaddis said. “Nobody is going to hold your hand.”
Chestatee’s leader is blessed to have a team that likes to run just as much as he does.
The Hall County championship showed the War Eagles’ team depth with Gaddis, Jonathan Torres-Cruz and Gavin Grater taking the second-fourth spots, respectively, to claim the team title.
And he credits community coach, Wes Wessley, for pouring countless hours into helping the program reach its full potential.
With the state race only a few weeks away, Gaddis isn’t ready to start tapering his runs to give himself the best chance to run the best race of his life.
However, he’s striking a good balance between preparation and preventing any aches and pains that could derail a championship race.
“State is going to be a tough race and there will be lots of great runners,” Gaddis said. “I’m going to give it my very best and live with the results.”