Harnett Central senior Kyle Hadding, of Lillington, signed Wednesday to attend Mars Hill University for cross country and track.
Hadding said that one of several reasons he chose to attend Mars Hill was that Trojans cross country coach Carter Benge also ran cross country for the Lions.
“I had also been looking at colleges in the mountains and Mars Hill is in the mountains,” Hadding said. “It was kind of what my heart said to do.”
Hadding noted that he had not met face-to-face with Lions cross country coach Mike Owens, who also coached Benge at Mars Hill, as the Lions had an away meet when he visited the campus, but had been in contact with him through e-mail.
Benge noted that cross country was not originally Hadding’s main athletics interest, but he saw tremendous improvement once he became dedicated to the sport.
“It’s been a journey since I started coaching here,” Benge said. “When I first started coaching Kyle, he would have been a sophomore, but he quit that first season, because he was really just running for basketball and to be in good shape. But since then, the past two years, he’s really shown a lot of dedication and leadership to continue getting better and growing as a runner and a person. So, they’re getting a good leader, a good, dedicated, loyal person and somebody who’s willing to work hard to get better.”
While cross country is his preferred distance (both 8-kilometer and 10-kilometer), Hadding said he also liked competing in the one-mile, two-mile and 800-meter events in track and field.
Hadding mentioned Central’s cross country team reaching the state championship his junior and senior years as being standout memories from his time running for the Trojans.
“The team put all their hard work toward reaching the state championships,” Hadding said.
Hadding plans to major in Criminal Justice at Mars Hill and hopes to become a state trooper and see where that career field leads him.
Hadding had no specific goals in mind for cross country at Mars Hill.
“I’ve thought of goals, but I don’t know where I’ll be at and what kind of times I’ll be running,” Hadding said. “So, I’ll see when I get there.”