State Gazette Cross Country Male Runner of the Year: Dyer County Choctaw Clark French

Sunday, June 9, 2024

JASON PEEVYHOUSE

jpeevyhouse@stategazette.com

Following a season where he led his team in each of the ten races the Choctaws took part in during the fall season, Dyer County cross country runner Clark French has been named the State Gazette Cross Country Male Runner of the Year for the 2023-24 school athletic year.

During those ten races, French had a total of seven top ten finishes including a season-high third place finish at the Dyer County Invitational on Aug. 29.

Dyer County Cross Country Head Coach Wendi Roberson said French is a natural-born leader.

“He is very self-motivated,” Roberson explained. “He is one of the best kids I have ever coached.

“He works really hard at everything he does. Really, there are no days off in his mind.”

French finished in 35th place in the Region 7A-AA Championship Meet this past October to wrap up a strong junior season on the course.

A successful season usually includes some improvements to an athlete’s performance as Roberson explained.

“I think in the mental side of running he grew the most,” the Dyer County head coach said. “He became really self-disciplined and just very self-motivated in everything he did.

“Mentally, just finishing the race is where he grew the most.”

This can probably be attributed to his work ethic, which Roberson pointed to as his strongest asset.

“It is just unbelievable,” Roberson explained. “I’ve never coached a kid that works as hard during practice and outside on their own as Clark did this past year.”

There are intangibles to an athlete’s game or performance which, again, goes back to his work ethic.

“You can ask any teacher at Dyer County and I am sure they have seen Clark running that campus – before school and after school,” Roberson pointed out. “He’s always working. And, with our Region, they combine A and AA together, so even though he didn’t have the placement that he wanted to, the way he improved during his junior season is just unbelievable.”

Those improvements could lead to big things when the cross country season gets going in August.

“I fully expect him to be at state,” Roberson said simply.

Add into all the praise about his performance on the course with Roberson pointing to how good of a teammate French is.

“He’s always motivating his team,” Roberson said. “During the girls’ race, he’s always cheering them on. He is motivating the guys during their race.

“He’s an outstanding student and an outstanding person. He’s a kid you just want around. He’s a great representative of his school, his family, and his church. He’s just an all-around great kid.”

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