After school hours, on a typical day, Larry Farmer can been seen running laps around the track, sprinting along the backstretch or gutting out grueling intervals. It's a routine that has brought the Henry County High School student from an average middle school runner with signs of potential to possibly the best distance runner the school has ever produced.
The stats don't lie - three consecutive trips to the Kentucky State Cross Country Championships, six-time (and counting) qualifier for the Kentucky State Track and Field Championships, and school records in the 1,600-meter run (4:46.38) and 3,200-meter run (10:29.22). It's a resume that has passed all previous long-distance runners from the school, which shut down the track program during the 1980s and started it back up in the mid-1990s.
With teammates that can no longer keep stride, Farmer is forced to run most of his miles on his own, with only a stopwatch as company.
Meanwhile, across the track, teammate Jalie Adams can be seen working on her specialty - the throwing events. Adams, who played for the Ladycats on the volleyball court during the fall and competed on the track team during the spring, first picked up a shot put and discus in the sixth grade, and hasn't put them down since.
In Adams' best event, the shot put, she threw a personal best 31 feet, 9.5 inches at the Henry County All-Comers last Thursday. Its an event she hopes to qualify in for the state meet in a few weeks, which would make her first state appearance.
Last Tuesday in Henry County's cafeteria, Farmer and Adams were brought together to fulfill their goals, which will pave the way for promising futures. Adams signed with Georgetown College, while Farmer signed with Brescia University.
"I wasn't planning to compete in track during college, but I saw Georgetown's records and thought I could do it," said Adams, who already committed to the school before signing a partial track scholarship. "I chose Georgetown because it's small, I really liked the campus, and they have a pre-vet program. I don't have any goals in track yet, I just want to do well."
The main difference will be the shot put's increase in weight, going from eight pounds to 10 pounds. But Adams says making that transition shouldn't be a big issue. She also plans on throwing the discus and javelin.
While Adams started throwing in the sixth grade, Farmer started running track in the eighth grade and didnt start running cross country until his sophomore year.
"Before my sophomore year, I just showed up and did what I was told," Farmer said. "Then, I started working with Coach (Greg) Woods and Coach D (Ricky Drawbaugh), and that's when I really started improving. I went from maybe running four to five miles a week to 30, and I started doing intervals, distance days, ladders, hills. I contribute all my success to those two coaches. I wouldnt be running in college if it wasn't for them."
The extra training load quickly advanced Farmer to the top. In cross country, he was the team's No. 1 runner and qualified for the State Cross Country Championships all three seasons.
Farmer, who started thinking about running in college after qualifying for the state track meet in three events as a sophomore, narrowed down his college choices to Union College, Lindsey Wilson, Kentucky Wesleyan University and Brescia. He eventually went with Brescia, a school located in Owensboro that has a cross country program just one year old and doesn't have a track team yet.
"My priority in choosing a college was running, so that's why I went with Brescia," Farmer said. "I liked the coaches, their training philosophies and the small campus. The atmosphere seemed very good for running."
The biggest difference for Farmer when he arrives on the Brescia campus will be the opportunity to run behind some faster runners and with a pack of teammates, a luxury he hasn't had in the past. And by the time he leaves the team in four-plus years, like at Henry County, he hopes to be the squad's No. 1 runner.
"Training will definitely be different," Farmer said. "We will run 12 times per week with 25 percent of our weekly mileage on Sunday mornings, and run more than 60 miles per week. I think it's going to be a lot more intense. Hopefully, I'm top-five on the team all four years, and become one of the team's top runners before I leave."
The actual cross country races will lengthen from five kilometers (3.1 miles) to eight kilometers (just shy of five miles). Farmer said he'll take a couple of weeks off after track, then build up his mileage each week before heading to Brescia in August.
Both Adams and Farmer will have a few more weeks of high school training and competing before turning their focus to college. Adams - the consistent thrower who has the most experience on the Henry squad - will become a Tiger in the fall. Meanwhile, Farmer - perhaps the best pure distance runner from HCHS - will become a Bearcat.
Both have already left their marks at Henry County High School, which has propelled them to the next level.
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