Smiths Station cross country runner Silas Franklin isn’t afraid to set the bar high for himself. Franklin was vocal about cracking the 16-minute mark on a number of occasions this fall. By the end of the season, he’d done in three different times.
Franklin established himself as an runner in the area, hitting a 15:27 personal record and later finishing first in the Region 2-7A meet. He continued that success at the Class 7A state meet, taking seventh place as the top junior with a time of 16:01.
Thanks to his strong junior year, Franklin has been named a 2017 All-Bi-City Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year.
Franklin said his performances throughout the fall were a product of his ever-changing training methods.
“It started off with long runs, long mileage of about 7 or 8 miles per day,” Franklin said. “Coming toward the middle of it, we started working on my speed, which is one of my biggest struggles during races. We started working on both toward the end of the year trying to get me into the top 5 or top 10 in state.”
As impressive as Franklin’s times were on a consistent basis, his expanding role within the Panthers team meant just as much. Smiths Station cross country coach Ron Peters explained that Franklin came into his own in leading the other runners, making the most of his own efforts to create a lead-by-example mentality.
Those efforts paid off at the region meet, where Franklin was the top individual and the team took first place.
“He pushed the other guys,” Peters said. “He’s really stepped up in the team to take more of a leadership role and to make sure we’re doing things right.”
Franklin’s cross country season culminated in an impressive display at the Class 7A state meet. Franklin said his goal was to beat Vestavia Hills’ James Sweeney, and before too long he found himself running in close proximity with Sweeney.
“I ended up racing with him right on his shoulder for second place the whole race up until the end,” Franklin said. “I kind of broke down on myself, but I still finished strong in seventh place.”
Franklin said one of his primary goals is to work on his mental toughness going forward. As far as the future goes, he’s already caught the eye of several prominent programs, including Miami and Florida State.
Franklin’s options will likely grow in the coming months, and he already has a sense in what he wants to see from a program.
“I want a college who will help me with whatever I need,” Franklin said. “Also, a team that respects me as much as I will respect them and has a good running environment.”
But before he takes his talents to the next level, he has one more year to improve and take a shot at being the top runner in Alabama.
Jordan D. Hill: 770-894-9818, @lesports