FAIRMONT — Transferring to Fairmont High School from rival South Robeson for his senior year, Austin Hunt never missed a beat when he joined the Golden Tornadoes cross country team.
In fact, Hunt didn’t even miss a practice en route to earning his third Three Rivers Conference runner of the year honor.
“Austin is the hardest working and most dedicated runner I’ve had the pleasure of coaching,” Fairmont coach Matt Reynolds said. “He took the lead of this year’s team and never missed a practice.
“Having Austin transfer in was a huge boost for our team, not just because he was the two-time runner of the year, but he was so ready to join the group of returning runners from our second place team last year.”
The transition was seamless for Hunt, who, along with teammate Corry Addison, will be competing at the NCHSAA 2A cross country championships on Saturday in Kernersville.
“I’m still in the same role, being a leader and pushing to that next level as a runner and a teammate,” Hunt said. “It means a lot knowing they (my teammates) take good advice and push me.”
Changing his role from rival to teammate, Hunt was a welcome addition in the eyes of Addison.
“It was cool cause he was the competition but now he’s my teammate — and we’re working hard to beat everybody,” said Addison, a junior runner with the Golden Tornadoes.
“(He’s) pushing me to run harder and not let people beat me. It’s been good. I try not to push myself too hard, but I do it hard enough to get a decent time.”
The duo will be looking to build on a solid showing at regionals, where Hunt finished 12th with a time of 17:52 and Addison crossed the finish line in 26th at 19:02 to lead Fairmont to a fifth-place finish.
Looking ahead to this weekend, both have a target time in mind. Hunt said he’s looking at a time around 17:40 as he competes at states for the second straight season, while Addison will be “trying to break 18” minutes in his first appearance.
“I’m just going to run hard, give it my all and leave nothing back,” Hunt said. “I really wanted to put a lot of work in over the summer to make it again this year. I felt like I’ve accomplished so much and the hard work has paid off.”
For Addison, qualifying for states was about making the most of an opportunity that he didn’t take advantage of during his sophomore year.
“Last year I got the chance to go to regionals, but I turned it down because I thought it would get in the way of basketball,” he said. “I really wanted to go ahead and do it this year. It’s an honor.”
Reynolds has seen the progress from Addison and expects the junior to take over Hunt’s leadership role next season.
“Corry, now a two-time all-TRC runner, should be ready to step right in and be that leader next year,” Reynolds said. “If he continues to work like he has this year, I see no reason why he can’t be the conference runner of the year next season.”
When the two line up at the starting line on Saturday, Addison said he’ll have one message for his teammate.
“Don’t let nobody beat us,” he said. “That’s it. Keep going and don’t let the school down.”
As Hunt closes the book on a stellar prep career, he said two things stand out the most about his journey.
“I’ll remember all of the wins and all of the good teammates I had at the two schools I went to,” he said. “It’s been fun.”
As for Reynolds, he’s just tickled to have the duo representing his program.
“Both runners have become good friends and are great teammates,” he said. “They both really inspired the whole cross country program here at Fairmont this year.”
Rodd Baxley can be reaced on Twitter @RoddBaxley.