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The Yankee Express

Running To Get Into College

Anthony Graves of Shepherd Hill Regional High School in Charlton (yellow running shoes) started his high school athletic career in football, but quickly evolved into a top runner

By Christopher Tremblay, Staff Sports Writer

Shepherd Hill’s Anthony Graves had never really thought about running track until his freshman season. Prioritizing football as his number one sport, he was looking for something to do to keep himself ready for football season. With a lot of his football family participating in track following the season he was encourages to try it out and once he stepped onto that track he would never be the same.
“I had never run track until last winter, football was always my main focus,” Graves said. “I was quick on the football field, but I found a whole new level on the track. I found a passion running track, it’s all about myself and I was locked in.”
Although a first-time runner last winter for the Rams, when Graves took to the track he looked like a veteran runner. During the indoor season he posted a personal best of 38.89 (breaking the school’s freshman record) in the 300 and a 56.47 running the 400. 
“He joined the team as a freshman and relatively quickly made an impact contributing to the team’s success,” Coach Len Harmon said. “He is very disciplined and like most athletes who excel, he pays attention to detail by doing drills the right way, studying and executing proper sprint technique and mechanics, while also working on overlooked aspects of sprinting such as balance, stability and power.”
In addition to running the 300 and 400 during the winter season, Graves will also take part in the 4x200 relay team for Shepherd Hill. It was the 300 that allowed the then freshman to take his running to the next level. 
“I just fell in love with the 300 during that winter season,” he said. “I medaled in the event during the Freshman / Sophomore Meet and as a sophomore this year my goal is to get back there and to be in the top three.”
By the time that Graves’ first indoor season came to a close, according to Harmon, the Shepherd Hill athlete recorded the top freshman time in the 300 and 400 and posted the second fastest time in the 600, while also becoming the 6th fastest runner in the 55-meter dash in Rams history. Graves also participated as the lead leg of the 4 x 200 relay team that was one of the best in Central Massachusetts, while positing the fourth fastest time in school history. 
With all his accolades on the track that first season, the freshman earned himself a spot in the Nike Nationals at the Armory in New York were running in the 400 his time put him fourth on the all-time indoor list. It was here in New York that Graves realized that track could give him a foot in the door at going to college.
“Last year having the opportunity to qualify for the Nike Nationals in NY opened my eyes and I realized that I could actually go places with track,” Graves said. “Following the winter season, it came to me that if I wanted to pursue college, track could be the sport that got me in.  To be able to run at different colleges throughout the country would be amazing.”
Harmon noted that the freshman struggled a bit with some nagging pain in his hip flexor, but instead of using it as a crutch he was able to go to physical therapy and make some adjustments to his mechanics and was ready to go for the spring season. Performances continued to grow as Graves was part of Shepherd Hill’s 4 x 100 team that won the Central Mass Invitational, was third in the District E Relay Meet and finished first in the MidWach A League Championship Meet.
Graves also stepped up in the League Championship Meet when the Ram’s senior captain suffered a hamstring injury. The freshman took on the 200-meter dash and although not even ranked in the top eight heading into the meet was able to grab second place and finished a mere 1/10th of a second way from first place.  He also finished seventh in the 400 at the statewide large school Freshman / Sophomore Meet, which ranks him as the number two freshman in the event in school history.
Much like the indoor season, the newcomer to running continued to show everyone that running was indeed his passion.
“His performances in outdoor track qualified him for a trip to Oregon to compete in the Nike Nationals in the 100 meter,” the Coach said. “The facility on the campus of the University of Oregon is one of the premiere facilities in the world and has hosted National, International, Olympic Trials and Collegiate national Championships. At the Nationals Tony finished 25th in the nation, running a personal best time of 11.66 which ranks in the top 15 all time in school history and is number two for freshman all time in the event.”
As a first-time runner with Shepherd Hill, Graves took home Rookie of the Year honors in both the indoor and outdoor track seasons, so needless to say Coach Harmon is very excited about the upcoming indoor season to see what he can do as a second-year runner. According to the Coach, Graves has already assumed a leadership role and has been independently working with two other sophomores during the off season to prepare for the upcoming indoor season.
As he gets ready for his sophomore season, Graves is hoping that he can shave as much time as possible off his times as well as continuing with his nutrition program.
 “It used to be whatever I could find I put into my body,” he said. “I’m more disciplined now and have much more energy and my focus in school has improved. I want to do better in the indoor season and when spring comes I’m going to be shooting for that number one spot in the 200, where I finished second last year.”