Last updated: June 01. 2013 10:49AM - 262 Views
Rodney King
Special to The Stokes News

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Three former North Stokes runners are finding success on the track in college. Over the past four years North Stokes has sent six athletes to NCAA Division II schools to compete in track and cross country. Three are finding tremendous success and making remarkable improvements since they left North Stokes.

Heidi Hooker graduated from North Stokes in 2009 not knowing exactly which college she would attend, but during the summer between her senior year in high school and freshman year of college she received a call from Mars Hill College asking her to come run track and cross country at Mars Hill.

Hooker trained with the team and ran unattached in most meets throughout cross country, indoor, and outdoor season. During her sophomore year, Hooker became the solid number four and number five runner on the cross country team. During the 2012 cross country season, Hooker made a lot of improvements and has become the solid number three runner on the Mars Hill Cross Country team.

This past season Hooker ran an all-time best of 20 minutes for 5K. Hooker also ran a personal best for 6K in last month’s NCAA Division II East Regional of 25:06. Hooker stated that it has been very challenging running track and cross country in college and she has had a wonderful experience.

“In high school I always dreamed of running in college one day,” Hooker said. “I didn’t think I had what it takes, but come to find out I did! It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to compete at this level. I am so thankful to have had Mr. King and Jimmy Dillard coaching me in high school. I still use the advice they gave me while I was running at North.”

Austin Edmonds, a 2011 graduate of North Stokes High School, has improved his times remarkably since graduation. Edmonds was the 2011 runner-up in the 800 at the 1A State Championships. With his strong runner-up finish, Edmonds received an athletic scholarship and several academic scholarships to attend Barton College in Wilson, N.C. During Edmonds’ freshman year, he steadily improved his times for both cross country and outdoor track. However, during this past season he became a standout on his team, becoming the Bulldogs’ solid number three runner behind senior standouts Sammy Serem and Christopher Free.

During the 2012 cross country season Edmonds improved his times in the 8K and the 10K distances. In the 8K Edmonds ran a time of 28:38 and in the 10K he ran a time of 34:43 at the NCAA Division II East Regional at the Historic Charlotte McApline Park. Edmonds also found success on the track during the 2012 outdoor season becoming a Mid-Distance Specialist for the Bulldogs running the 400, 800 and 1,500. Edmonds commented that when you are running in college the training consumes most of your life.

“College running requires a lot of dedication and time out of the day,” he said. “You pretty much have to eat, sleep and run on a daily basis — and go to class of course.”

Even though the practices are tougher and longer in college, Edmonds said it is still worth it.

“I like running more now than ever before,” he said. “When you have the opportunity to run in college you can never forget where you came from and how you got there.”

Elizabeth Klapmeyer, 2012 graduate of North Stokes High School, joined fellow high school teammate Heidi Hooker at Mars Hill this past season. Klapmeyer and Hooker were teammates for one year on the North Stokes track team back in 2009 when Klapmeyer was a freshman and Hooker was a senior. During this past cross country season Klapmeyer ran as the number sixth and seventh runner on the Mars Hills team. She improved her 5K time by 20 seconds from her best times as a senior at North Stokes. Klapmeyer ran a time of 21:31 this year. She also ran a personal best time for 6K at the NCAA Division II Regional, running a time of 26:45.

Echoing Hooker, Klapmeyer said that going from high school to college athletics has not only been a challenge, but an adventure.

“College has been a wonderful experience and I am very pleased to be able to say that I am a part of it,” she said.

Klapmeyer said she would not have been successful in college without the support and experience of track coaches Rodney King and Jimmy Dillard at North Stokes.

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