Chase Kennedy, 19, poses for a portrait at the East Jackson High School track in Commerce, Georgia, on May 2, 2017. Kennedy holds five individual state titles, three in cross country and two in track, as well as one team state cross country title. He will be attending Kennesaw State on a running scholarship. (HENRY TAYLOR / HENRY.TAYLOR@AJC.COM)
Photo: Henry P. Taylor
Photo: Henry P. Taylor

Boys cross country player of the year

Boys cross country player of the year

Chase Kennedy, East Jackson

Achievements: Three-time Class AAA state champion. Top overall time in the 2016 state meet (16:01.58). Led team to first team state championship in 2016

Position: Distance runner (Cross country; 1,600 and 3,200 in track and field)

Height/weight: 6-foot, 155 pounds

Class: Senior

College choice: Signed with Kennesaw State

Why Kennesaw: The No. 1 reason was that (Kennesaw State) coach (David) Poteet coached his son, Logan, at Kell, and he did really well in high school and is doing well now. We have a similar style, and I think he’ll be a good training partner for me, so I think coach Poteet’s coaching will help make me better.

Best high school moment: Winning the (Class AAA team) state championship.

Why cross country: In middle school I felt like I could always run at a pretty good consistent pace, and so I thought cross country would be a good sport for me.

What you’d like to be doing in 10 years: I’m not too sure what I want to major in right now, but I hope to be working in whatever field I choose. I don’t see running (professionally) as something I’ll do much past college.

Favorite high school course: The Mountain Invite in White County has a hill that’s about a half-mile. You have to really stay in the race mentally. I did horribly there my freshman year, but I improved every year.

People who helped along the way: Coach (Tony) Sitton has helped me a lot. My (twin) brother Chandler has always been there pushing me. He’s a great training partner and has been right beside me the whole time. (Note: Chandler finished third, second and second, respectively, in the 2016, 2015 and 2014 state meets. He will run at Augusta State in the fall.)

Toughest high school opponent: Reilly Friedman was someone I competed against my sophomore year when he was a senior. He just never slowed down. He was really, really good. (Note: Friedman was the National Milesplit Cross Country Runner of the Year as a senior and now competes for the University of Colorado.)

Favorite movie: “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” My brother and I watch it all the time. We can quote a lot of the lines from the movie.

Favorite song: “In Case You Didn’t Know” by Brett Young.

Worst high school moment: My sophomore year, (Decatur senior) Sam Ellis beat me in the mile (1,600 meters). The next year, I thought I beat him, but he beat me again (4:13.10 to 4:13.91). He’s like three or four inches taller than me, and his stride length is longer than mine. I’ve beaten him in cross country, but his speed is tough.

If you could be any other athlete on earth: Chase Elliott. I like watching NASCAR, and I like him. From the very beginning, even though he’s a young driver, he hasn’t been afraid to go against the veterans.

Money or happiness: Happiness. I feel like just because you have money that doesn’t mean you’re happy. Happy memories last forever. Money doesn’t.

Best word to describe yourself: Determined.

View of the world at this moment: Society is so technology-based now. I think people are paying attention to social media and not spending time with their families, which I think is more important.

What you would put in a time capsule: My state championship ring. It’s special because it showed a public school can compete with private schools. My running jersey, to show that hard work pays off. And a picture of my family.

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