Last Saturday (November 30), Athens Academy senior Graham Blanks continued one of the best cross country seasons in Georgia history. He finished first place in the Nike Southeast Regional race which is a qualifier for the Nike Cross Country Nationals. His time of 14:57 placed him first in the race which qualified him for the Championship this Saturday (December 7) in Portland, Oregon.
Graham's first place finish is only the second time in Georgia history that a Georgia runner has won a national level qualifying race. The only other was Travis Grindstaff in 1987. This race comprised the top runners in 11 Southeast states and the District of Columbia.
Earlier this season, Graham gained national recognition when he won the Great American Cross Country Festival race with a time of 14:45. He was the first Georgia athlete to bring home the victory in this prestigious national level meet. He also won the Class A Private state championship in Carrollton, Ga. His time in that race earned him the fastest time all classification and set a State Records for the fastest time ever recorded on the Carrollton Course.
Information for the Nike Cross Country Nationals are as follows:
Race Time: Saturday, December 7 - 10:05 Pacific Time
Athens Academy is now added to a short list of Georgia schools who have had two runners qualify for a National Level Cross Country Meet. Graham joins Anna Marian Block who qualified for the 2016 Footlocker National race and finished 29th earning All American status. Other schools who have had two runners qualify include Walton High School, Marietta High School, Milton High School, Landmark Chrisitan, and Marist (3 qualifiers).