Wyatt Maxey has been among the state’s top cross-country runners since he took up the sport his freshman season.
But what the Panther senior was able to accomplish this season may be unprecedented, as he made a clean sweep of the three post-season races – culminating in the ultimate goal of closing his accomplished career with an individual state title.
Maxey ran 15 minutes, 41 seconds at the So. Meck conference championship to easily take the inaugural league title. He followed that up with the Class 4A Western Regional crown (15:39) which led to what he said was a dream – winning the state individual title.
Maxey had been successful at the state meet in the past, finishing seventh (16:01) as a sophomore in 2011 and fifth (15:46) as a junior, but he was anxious to improve upon his place and time.
It wasn’t until the race was more than halfway through that he made the charge that would net the ultimate prize for a cross-country runner.
“The pace was perfect after two miles to set up a kicking battle and that’s what I needed,” Maxey said. “Instead of a hard pace all the way through, if it’s a fast finish I usually can do well. When one guy makes a move I try to follow it, and that’s what I did and I was able to do it.”
Maxey raced out in front of the pack and won the individual title in 15:17, his personal-best time. In the process, he also laid claim to the title of 2013 Carolina Weekly Newspaper Group’s 2013 Southern Mecklenburg Boys Cross-Country Runner of the Year.
“It’s a really big honor, but I think it’s just the start,” Maxey said. “I know we’ll have a lot of guys from (Providence) who will follow in my footsteps – I have no doubt about that.”
As he looks back on his illustrious career, Maxey said he’s most excited about how his leadership skills have improved and how far the team has come in his four seasons.
“I would hope my leadership is what has improved the most,” Maxey said. “It’s important to set a good example and I try to set the best example that I can. It’s great to see the young guys start to develop into leadership roles. It really means a lot to see them grow.
“I was excited for the state championship, but I was really excited for our team winning the conference this year. We came up a little short in the regionals, but we still gave it our best shot and so the effort was there and I’m proud of the team.”
While Maxey’s high school career is over, he said he’s excited to see where the Panthers end up next season, with a talented group of underclassmen led by Tanner Sutter, Logan Sutter, Daniel Kim, Will McSwain, Sean McCaffery, Ryan Persund and others.
“My freshman year we were good, but we weren’t nearly as good as we are now,” Maxey said. “I’ve gotten better, but the success of the whole team has been amazing.”
Maxey said he’s sad to see his time as a Panther come to end, even though he leaves on top of the high school cross-country landscape. But he’s happy for his new beginning.
Maxey will run next season at N.C. State, which he said was always a goal of his since he took up running as a freshman simply looking to leave his mark. As he leaves, there’s no question Maxey has left a lasting impression.
“My training has increased, my mileage has increased, and my pace has gone up with it,” Maxey said. “I’ve worked hard and I’m happy what I’ve accomplished.”