Senior leading the way

By Kevin Eckleberry Sports Editor

November 6, 2013

The LaGrange Grangers will be one of the favorites to win Saturday’s state cross-country meet because of their team depth.

They have seven outstanding runners, which is a key in a sport where the top five places count toward the team total.

It also helps to have one of the state’s best distance runners leading the way.

Senior Andrew Coggins, fresh off his second-place performance at last week’s Region 5-AAAA meet, will lead LaGrange in the state meet on Saturday in Carrollton.

It will put the wraps on an exceptional cross-country career for Coggins, who has been among the team’s top runners since his freshman season.

Coggins really started to take off as a sophomore when he finished 24th at the state meet to lead the team, and he was eighth at state last year, one spot behind teammate Sam Bowie.

As a senior, Coggins has continued to excel, and he set the school cross-country record at the Asics Invitational with a time of 15 minutes, 23 seconds.

Coggins has won a couple of meets, and he was second at the region meet.

Now, Coggins is ready to put it on the line one more time, and he’s hoping to make the most of his final opportunity.

“I just want to finish really well,” Coggins said after Wednesday’s training run. “I just want to have a good race all-around, and put a good time up. We’re built about as good as any team in the state. We’ve gone against the best, and we’ve really proved ourselves.”

LaGrange head coach Brad Wilson said the other runners have followed Coggins’ lead.

“When they saw him start to have success, some more of them started to buy in,” Wilson said. “They’ve followed right in his footsteps.”

Coggins has seen the program make dramatic strides in his four years.

When Coggins was a freshman, LaGrange’s best time at the region meet was 18:18.

At this year’s region meet, LaGrange had five runners post times faster than that, and the sixth runner had a time of 18:19.

“We’ve done great,” Coggins said. “We were pretty good my freshman year. We had a lot of guys who were about where our five, six and seven are now. In terms of one through four, our top guys, we’ve really brought it to another level.”

As for Saturday’s meet, Coggins hopes the team closes out a fantastic season in style.

“We’ve had such a good season so far,” Coggins said. “We’re just trying to finish it out good.”

While Saturday will mark Coggins’ final cross-country race, his time as a LaGrange High athlete won’t be over.

Coggins will be looking to build on a big junior season in track and field that culminated with a state championship in the 800-meter run.

Coggins also finished second in the 1,600-meter run.