Former T.C. Williams runners Anteneh Girma and Jack Mackey continue their successful track careers at Norfolk State University (NSU) and the College of William and Mary (W&M), respectively. Girma made Spartan debut as a sophomore at the Virginia Duals, finishing in 15th place overall. In November, he was named MEAC XC Runner of the Week. About fifty miles north, another T.C Alumni, Jack, began his year by winning the Massey Cancer Center 5k. W&M’s cross country and track team donates $200,000 to the organization.
Michael Hughes, their former T.C. coach, said he coached Girma and Mackey throughout the whole year, because “long distance is a long term investment.” “The miles would build up year after year and that allowed them to succeed in what they have accomplished,” Hughes said. Knowing that these two athletes had talent, Hughes put them through longer and more strenuous workouts. But increased dedication can bring risk of injury, and Mackey did not run in the last, and arguably most important, race of his senior year because of a stress fracture.
Hughes acknowledged that the balance between normal teenage life and competitive running is challenging, but vital. On Girma transferring schools, Hughes joked, “he changes them like people change their socks.” Hughes cautioned against transferring schools, and said that it is a bad idea for your development. “The career is affected by constant restarting in the training concept,” Hughes said.
Transferring aside, Hughes applauds Girma for his success. “It’s been a long time coming,” Hughes said. While both athletes are quite accomplished, they are different runners. Hughes said, “Mackey grew confident in his running junior year and came to senior year with a very high opinion of himself, while Girma never really believed he was as good as he was.” Girma was more successful in the shorter races, such as the 800m or 1000m. However, Jack spent more time in longer distance running events, such as the 3K and 5K.
When asked if he could have done even more to have these two athletes at a higher level, Hughes’s answer was simple: of course. He said there were factors that pulled the athletes away from running. “If I could have convinced them to work around those things earlier in there careers they would have developed higher,” Hughes said. He considers himself as a “leg on the relay” and tends to teach the athletes as if they have a future in the sport.