McALESTER — By his own account, McAlester senior Hank Brown got into long-distance running by accident. Moving from McAlester to Pittsburg when he was 1 month old and then returning to McAlester when he was 7, Brown joined the track team at Frink-Chambers.
Because his friend Eduardo Suarez happened to be a distance runner, Brown became one as well.
It didn’t take long for Brown to get hooked.
“First time I ever ran 10 miles, it was just one of the greatest feelings ever,” Brown said Friday. “I felt like I was weightless.”
Brown, now a senior at McAlester High School, runs on both McAlester’s fall cross country team and as a distance runner on the spring track team. Brown’s spring events include the 800 meter run, the 1 Mile, the 2 Mile, the 1 and 2 Mile relays and occasionally the 400 meter.
“You improve yourself a lot,” Brown said of distance running. “It’s a lot harder than just sprinting 100 meters. You have to be mentally tough to do it.”
This is Brown’s third year running cross country for the Buffs. Like many of his teammates, Brown said he’d like to qualify as a team for the state meet in October, something he said will require “a lot of miles and good grades”
“We’d all take a bullet for each other,” Brown said.
“Susanne (Carney, coach) said that she loved it for all the kids out there just running, knowing they’re not going to get medals. They did it just to improve themselves, and that’s pretty inspiring.”
Brown said this 2013 Buffs team seems more focused than in previous years. They’re so focused, in fact, that their coaches had to tell them to stop running so much outside of practice so as to be fresher for meets.
During the summer, Brown said, he’d run several miles every day. But scaling back his recreational running has definitely helped him at meets.