Archive for Thursday, July 20, 2006

Summer hardware

July 20, 2006

Eudora High School senior Brittney Graff is somewhat modest. She doesn't like to brag about being the four-mile overall female winner of the Horsethief Run Saturday or about how she has broken numerous school cross country and track records. She doesn't boast about being named a Class 4A all-academic athlete last year and having a 4.0 grade point average.

No, she doesn't like to talk about her accolades, and when she has to, she'll downplay them.

"Whenever I tell people about my accomplishments I usually end up telling them things I didn't do," Graff said.

But without a doubt, Graff has plenty to boast about, and if she won't talk about those achievements or her chances of bettering them during her senior season, Eudora cross country coach Paul Boone will.

"She's naturally tough and she plays tough," Boone said. "She's one of those kids where she says, 'You've got to make me work. Don't go light on me.' She knows what it takes to get good."

Plain and simple, though, Graff said she works so hard at school, cross country and track so she doesn't get bored.

"I'd have too much free time if I didn't run," Graff said.

For Graff, Saturday's Horsethief Run and her ensuing victory was just another run and just another trophy -- just another part of a journey that began in eighth grade.

Graff said she discovered she wanted to run track and cross country in high school when she was in eighth grade and practiced with the high school team. She has been running ever since.

"The eighth-graders would go to the high school meets and we would have a one-mile fun run with them before their race," Graff said. "During the warm-up I would just run as hard as I could. I would stay with (2006 EHS graduate) Megan Ballock, and I thought I was so good. Of course she wasn't running hard, but I didn't know that. I just decided to stay with it."

Since her first year in high school, Boone said he has seen dramatic improvement in Graff as a runner, thanks in part to her strong work ethic.

"She's really developed as a runner," Boone said. "She's grown in her knowledge of what it takes to be a good runner -- she's really grown."

Although Graff is a natural runner, she still has to cultivate her talent through extensive practice during the school year and the summer. Graff said she and the EHS cross country team run almost every day of the week, culminating on Fridays when they run 10 miles. She said she likes to change her routine up so running always stays exciting and fun.

Boone said during the summer he and assistant coach Dan Kuhlman stress working up mileage with the team. He said Graff stays focused during the summer and always takes the workouts seriously.

"She never just goes through the motions," Boone said. "If she's working out, she's working out. It's her focus and endurance that are the biggest factors in her success."

It all began to pay off during the 2005-2006 school year. Graff won eight straight cross country races and claimed the Class 4A state championship to cap off the cross country season. She added a pile of state track medals seven months later, taking second in both the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs and helping relay teams capture gold in the 1,600 and 3,200 relays.

But Graff doesn't dare take all of the credit for her achievements. She said she owes so much of where she's at now to coaches Boone and Kuhlman and her mother.

"They all really helped me be successful. My mom will always cook me carb-packed foods. She also subscribed to Runner's World magazine for me and makes me read it," Graff said laughingly.

It's not all running for Graff. She balances her athletics dreams with academic ones and stays active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Eudora High School's Student Council, International Club and Environmental Club.

On top of all that, she also plans to go to medical school.

But no matter what happens, don't expect her to come around talking about it.

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