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Sunday Morning Briefing 11-20

By Staff | Nov 20, 2016

Brothers Gavin (left) and Spencer Corley are among Tyler County's best runners.

Good morning Tyler County.

Mountaineers lost. Less said, the better.

On a better note, the Corley brothers competed in the Battle of the Potomac Cross Country Championship on Saturday in Bethesda, MD. Not just anybody can sign up for this race, you have to be among the best.

Eighth grader Spencer Corley holds several long distance records at Tyler County Middle School.

His older brother, Gavin, a junior, is the fastest runner on the cross country team and posted a sub 5 minute mile last track season as a TCHS sophomore.

Spencer came away with a first place trophy — capturing it from kids from suburban Virginia, Maryland, DC and the Mountain State.

A little bit about the Corley brothers.

During the summer on a hot and humid day, there was a 5k around the hills of Middlebourne. I think the Boggs family and an alumni group organized the race. Though the Corley boys are fiercely competitive, they are brothers at heart. Spencer had issues, maybe dehydration, during the race that slowed him down, slowed us all down. Instead of pacing ahead to a certain victory, Gavin made sure his brother was OK and helped him finish the race. That speaks volumes about Gavin’s character.

As to Spencer, this editor first got a better glimpse of him this summer during the track camp organized by TCHS Coach Breanna Haggerty. The coaching staff wanted to see what the runners could do in a timed mile around the track.

Gavin set the pace for the first two laps or so. Remember, he had competed in the state track meet a few months earlier near the end of the school year, so he hadn’t lost anything. Spencer was a few steps behind him during the first part of the race.

Gavin let up — as most experienced runners might do — because it was a hot day, so no need to kill yourself for a scrimmage/training run. By let up, I mean Gavin still clipped about a 1:20 lap or so around the track to finish at about 5:20ish. Not too shabby.

Spencer didn’t let up. Let me say that again. Spencer didn’t let up and passed his brother. I suspect he ran negative splits the last 600 meters.

There was a determined, focused look on Spencer’s face, fire in his eyes. Running for him seems not just about finishing a race or being faster, but pacing himself without fear to that point deep inside where few dare to tread and then pushing harder.

The boy sprinted the last 200 meters of the mile as if he were running at a championship meet. When Spencer finished, he was out of breath. Of course, you say, he’s going to be out breath after finishing. But no, there is a difference between being out of breath after a polite jog and being out of breath after an all-out sprint.

During the past cross country season, Spencer put the same intensity into each race to defeat many runners.

Though I’m usually in “interview mode” as most people will attest, I was able to break free from this and talk to Spencer briefly after a big cross country meet outside Marietta.

Honestly, I was expecting that because of Spencer’s success this season, he would be — let’s say it — a jerk like long distance running legend Steve Prefontaine. Really, what athlete wouldn’t be full of himself after scoring so many victories?

Instead, Spencer was humble, calm, very kind. He had a big goofy smile on his face and was happy to be in the winners’ circle. In no way did he feel this was his due like some spoiled brat kid at the end of the season who asks — demands — “Where is my trophy!?”

Recently, I competed in a 5k against a former Navy Seal — much older than me. He passed me, took second place overall in the race and left without picking up the trophy. For him, it was about the race, not about the trophy.

I suspect that’s true for Spencer too.

Like his brother Gavin, Spencer is a rare breed of person and athlete.

My advice watch this boy run in the years ahead. I suspect we won’t see anything like it any time soon.