Decorated freshman impresses coaches

John Crossley

John Crossley

ECU freshman and track and field runner John Crossley is used to outworking his competition, a trend he plans on continuing at the collegiate level.

“I don’t like to think of myself as being really talented in track and field or cross country, but I beat people that are more talented than me by outworking them,” said Crossley.

Crossley, a two-time All Conference selection and Conference Champion at West Carteret High School in Morehead City, N.C., used his unmatched work ethic to win a state championship his junior year and a national championship his senior year; both in the 800 meter race.

These successes made Crossley one of the top high school runners in the country, and he was recognized as such by being named to the USA Today’s All-USA Boys Track & Field Team.

Despite the lofty honors Crossley received in high school, he has no intentions to coast through the season and rely on past successes to propel him toward future ones.

“I plan to forget about it,” said Crossley when asked about being named to the All-USA Team. “High school was a lot different than college. I had good success in high school, but that doesn’t really matter anymore. I have to continue working hard in order to hopefully achieve that same level of success, if not better.”

Cross Country and Middle Distance Coach Dan Lee believes Crossley has the drive and motivation to keep improving to be successful at the collegiate level.

“To win at this level, you have to be motivated to work. Everyone wants to win but not everyone wants to work,” said Lee. “The mentality to put in the necessary work in order to improve is definitely something I saw in John ever since I first met him.”

One of the things Coach Lee will stress to Crossley this year will be putting an emphasis on the “little things,” which he thinks are a big part of any athletes’ success.

“Most athletes do the big things and it’s really the little things that glue these big things together and make it more than the sum of its parts,” said Lee.

Coach Lee believes that by adding all the little things together, such as stretching well after runs, grabbing bags of ice from the trainer and recovering well after a run with a snack, can have a big impact on your career.

Crossley’s partiality for asking Lee inquisitive questions was an early sign of his drive to improve, which was part of the reason Lee chose to extend him an offer to become a Pirate during his senior year.

Along with Crossley’s constant desire to improve, Lee says he possesses “great speed, good mechanics and really good natural instincts,” all of which should help make him one of the top freshmen competing in Conference-USA this season.

Despite all the work he’ll be putting in this season, Crossley is just looking forward to enjoying his first year as a Pirate and bonding with his teammates, especially his fellow freshman as they’ll be spending four years together.

The cross country team will begin their season in Boone, N.C. this weekend at the Covered Bridge Invitational.

This writer can be contacted at

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