Runner of the Year: Illnesses fail to stem Cornett’s successful year
by Chris Byess
cbyess@cherokeetribune.com
December 22, 2012 01:10 AM | 1610 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WOODSTOCK — Entering the 2012 season, no runner in the county was expected to perform at a level as high as Woodstock’s J.C. Cornett.

He began his senior season with the hopes of repeating as county champion, placing inside the top six at the Region 5AAAAAA meet and redeeming a poor performance at the state championship.

Despite suffering from a strong fever in the final weeks of the season, Cornett achieved every goal that he had set for himself at the beginning of the year.

As a result, he is the 2012 Cherokee Tribune Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year, earning the award for the second year in a row.

“It’s awesome,” said Cornett of receiving the award once again. “I definitely wanted to win it again. Obviously, you don’t want to get worse as you go along, so I just went out and trained hard this year.”

Cornett was a consistent force throughout the early part of the season, placing 11th at the Clara Bowl Invitational, fourth at the Warpath Invitational and first in the F.L. Runners Invitational — the last of which Cornett broke 16 minutes at for the first time this season.

Entering the week before the county championships at Boling Park, Cornett was an early favorite to top the leaderboard once again.

Days before the race, Cornett came down with a high fever, but despite running sick, he still won the race with a time of 16 minutes, 15 seconds.

Three weeks later, just before the Region 5AAAAAA meet at Boling, Cornett fell sick again.

“It was hard,” he said of dealing with the late-season illnesses. “I had a huge fever the night before region — I had to go to bed by 7:00.”

Rather than excuse himself from the race, Cornett showed up the next morning ready to compete, with his spot at state on the line.

Woodstock coach Kirk Scharich recalled how determined Cornett was just before the race began.

“He got there and said, ‘I’ll die before I finish outside of the top six,’” Scharich said. “Sure enough, he hung in there.”

With a time of 16:00.01, Cornett finished fourth to book his spot at the state meet.

“I was amazed,” Scharich said of Cornett’s performance. “He wasn’t sorry for himself at all. He showed a lot of guts that race. I was really proud of him.”

At the state meet in Carrollton, Cornett set his sights on a top-10 finish.

The year before, he finished 55th after once again falling ill, but he didn’t repeat that poor performance and went on to finish ninth.

“I was really happy to finish inside of the top 10. It was my goal to get on the podium,” Cornett said. “The course was unbelievably difficult, so it was awesome to have a good race. It was nice to redeem myself.”

Cornett credited an increased amount of time spent in the weight room for the increase in his foot speed. He also said that he was pleased with his final high school season.

“You are always going to look back and think that you could have done better, but I’m definitely proud of how I did this year,” Cornett said. “I’ve had an awesome time at Woodstock.”

Cornett hopes to attend a Division I college next year, with the intent of continuing his running career.

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