Salute to Seniors: Clayton Kirkus

Salute to Seniors

We're saluting the Class of 2020 each week this spring..

You can go here to find out how you can get involved.

And Hendersonville senior Clayton Kirkus is next up in our feature series. He'll be continuing his track career at Tennessee Tech next fall regardless of how this track season ends. 

Here are his shoutouts, words of wisdom and fondest memories from high school track and cross country.

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What made you get into track and field in the first place and what does this sport mean to you?

I got into track and field because my dad was a runner, after following in his footsteps and seeing how it changed his life I fell in love with it. It became something I've wanted to do for the rest of my life. It's helped me through so many emotional struggles and I wouldn't trade the last four years for anything.

What was your most memorable race/competition?

My most memorable race has got to be the 2019 state cross country championships. It was my first state race and the atmosphere and mutual understanding that were all about to go to war together was so intense and just purely incredible.

Where did you face your biggest competition?

My biggest competition was at the Siegel 2 mile. I raced the likes of Canaan Anderson and Fuji Anday for the first time on the track and had so much fun racing them.

Out of all of your high school accomplishments, which stands out the most?

My 17th place at the state cross country championship. I was ranked somewhere in the mid 30's so it proved that just because had the slower PR didn't mean I was the slower racer.

If you could do it all over again, what would you change about your athletic career in high school?

If I could change one thing, I would've started taking it seriously sooner. I feel as though I waited too late and lost a lot of potential opportunities than if I had started while I was younger.

What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?

The most difficult obstacle the the developing of my mental toughness. Putting in 60-70 miles a week and keeping that going wasn't easy.

What will you miss the most?

The thing I'll miss the most is all the friends I've gained along the way, I'll most likely lose the mutual understanding I have with my opponents that I'm here to beat them and they're here to beat me. An aspect I love about racing these boys.

Do you have any advice for younger athletes?

If I could give one word of advice to a younger athlete, it would be to stick with it. Even when it gets hard or you think your coach doesn't know what he's doing, stick to the training and trust the process, it'll get you places.

How have your coaches influenced your performances and your life goals overall?

My coaches played a large role in my training and understanding of the sport, they gave me confidence and advice when I needed it most and introduced me to the many beautiful sides or the running community.

What are your post-high school plans?

After high school, I'll be attending Tennessee Tech University as a collegiate cross country and track and field athlete. I'll be majoring in environmental engineering. I also hope to go pro one day.

Any shoutouts?

I'd like to shout out Eric Mitchell, Coach Scott Wietecha, and the entire Beech High School cross country and track and field team. They all gave me a goal to shoot for and made training for a race worth it when the time came to toe the line once more

Telling the stories of track and field seniors in the state of Tennessee as they say goodbye to teammates, coaches and high school competition.