For The Tribune

Drake Spencer doesn’t turn down opportunities to go running — long or short distances, whether it’s getting prepared for his next track meet or running in the fall with the Seymour cross-country team.

The Owl senior began running in sixth grade, and he has been busy during the falls and springs throughout his high school career.

“The best part about just going out and running is being able to clear your head because you’re not going to be able to have the same focus if you’re running laps around the track or just on a treadmill because it’s just more relaxing,” Spencer said.

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In the spring, Spencer typically runs the sprints.

“Since elementary I’ve always loved the sprints,” Spencer said. “Even during recess I was always having those little races with my friends, so track gives me one of those experiences where I’m actually able to compete at it.”

He plans on running in the 200-meter dash and 4×100-meter relay with the Owls in his final season.

“My best event, to me, is the 200-meter run, or the 400 relay,” Spencer said. “I’m not very high up in either one, but hopefully by the end of the year I will be varsity in the 200. In the 100, my top speed is not there, but I can hold it in the 200 where most people can’t.

“I do enjoy running the curve. If I’m in a lower lane, like 1 or 2, I’ll see everybody, and it will make me work harder on the curve, and then I can still keep that pace for the straight away where I may not be able to see people next to me, and they may creep by me and beat me.”

Spencer said his fastest 200 time last year was 25.7 seconds.

“I would like to work down to the high 24s in the 200, and show my coaches I’m good enough for that top relay,” he said. “We have a new sprint coach (Jeff Klopf), and he’s doing a great job at making us work.”

Getting a quick start out of the blocks is important to be successful, Spencer said.

“If I don’t have a good start, my top speed is not good enough, so I have to get out on them,” Spencer said. “In both the 100 and 200 I like to be in lane 3 or 4.”

When running a 5K on the cross-country team, Spencer methodically planned his splits.

“The first mile is where you have to pace yourself the most,” Spencer said. “I would try to run a 6:10, and hopefully the second mile was about the same. The last 200 was always my strongest point. My goal in any cross-country race was to not ever get passed.”

During his junior season, Spencer ran his fastest cross-country time: 19:55.

“It was the only time that I broke 20,” Spencer said. “Having a good mindset is the most important thing in distance. Anyone can train, but if you don’t have a good mindset you’re not going to be able to compete because you’re going to be going up a hill, like at Columbus East, and you’re going to feel it and you’re going to want to stop, and you have to push through it. If you can’t, you’re not going to be good at it.

“Cross-country is a great bonding experience with all of the other runners, and that is one of the main reasons why I did it all seven years.

Wherever he’s running, Spencer always believes in his abilities.

“The mental part is any sport is always important,” Spencer said. “If you don’t have a good mentality you’re not going to be very good at it. If you’re in the middle of a race, like the 1,600 relay, and you have to catch a runner and you think you can’t, then you won’t.”

Off the track

Parents: Kelly Spencer, David Spencer

Siblings: Kennedy, Tyler

Organizations: Choir, robotics

Sports: Track 4 years, cross-country 4 years, wrestling 2 years

Athletic highlights: Track- helped Owls win 2013 sectional, cross-country Coaches Award

Attending SHS: “All my friends are here and I’ve known them forever it feels like. Also there are not too many kids where you won’t have time to meet with a teacher. They will always make time for you.”

Plans after high school: Attend college

Favorite away track: Bedford North Lawrence

Favorite food: Pizza

Favorite TV show: “The Walking Dead”

Favorite musician: Eminem

Favorite movie: Fast and Furious movies

Favorite athlete: Steve Prefontaine

Favorite team: Kentucky Wildcats

Favorite book: Eragon Trilogy

Favorite quote: “To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift.” – Steve Prefontaine

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Arv Koontz is a sports correspondent for The (Seymour) Tribune.