Harold Smith leads men's cross country
Freshman men's cross country runner Harold Smith has impressed Head Cross Country Coach Caleb Morgan with his performance throughout the season.
At the Louisville Classic on Oct. 4, Smith set the school record for the fastest 8k at 25:00:95, a record that previously dated back to 2008.
At the Sand Shark Invitational on Oct. 25, 19 days later, Smith beat his own record for the fastest 8k by posting a time of 24:58.26.
'Five of our top six times in school history have been run this year; Harold's got the top two,' Morgan said. 'He's the first runner under 25 minutes, which is huge... No matter what year [our runners] are, whether they're a senior or freshman, that's extremely competitive.
Morgan feels that Smith has elevated himself from being a top-300 runner in the nation while in high school, to being a top-100 runner among freshman in college at every level.
Morgan believes Smith has worked hard and bought into the program.
'He's just really improved a lot. He's taken well to our training and he is very competitive,' Morgan said.
Smith believes that his hard work has paid off, but also gives credit to his teammates.
'I've just been working hard, listening to everything the coach is telling me and trying to encourage my teammates,' Smith said. 'I can't take credit for the hard work this year as my teammates have pushed me, and so has my coach.'
Last season, the team finished fifth in the Gulf South Conference. Though due to the talent of the younger runners and the experience and maturity that they show, Smith and Morgan both believe that this team has the potential to not only win the Gulf South Conference Championship, but to win the NCCAA National Championship.
'This year we're definitely looking to win the [conference]. We think we have good shot,' Morgan said.
Morgan believes that the potential for Smith is very high, whether in cross country or track. Although Smith tweaked his hip at the Sand Shark Invitational, All-American, which is top-15 at nationals, is something that Morgan thinks is an attainable goal for Smith.
'I think his potential is off the charts,' Morgan said. 'He's been getting in really good training. So if everything goes right, he'd have a shot at winning [nationals]. But I honestly don't see him being out of the top 5.'
Smith has set the records and has the potential to be an All-American his freshman year, but he said that he just wants to keep getting better.
'I'm just trying to become the best that I can be,' Smith said.