MILLEDGEVILLE — It should come as no surprise after his performance at the state meet last year, but Georgia Military Prep School’s Will Archer is U-R Athlete of the Week following his results at the First Presbyterian Day-WRHS Second Annual Run Wild Invitational.
The meet was held at the Georgia Industrial Children’s Home in Macon last Saturday.
Archer paced the Bulldogs with a 17:42 to place third individually out of 88 runners, leading GMC Prep to a seventh place finish as a team against tough competition.
“I was somewhat happy with it. I want a faster time than that for sure before area and state come around,” Archer said. “I was happy about the time, but not ecstatic about it. I was happier with the place more so than the time.”
While the tall senior has led the team in every race this fall, head coach Stacie Stevenson admits Archer has gone through a transformation compared to previous years.
“I’m impressed with him this year. He’s just taking charge of that team, and it’s a side of him that I’ve never seen,” Stevenson said. “He has taken that role as a captain. Will has taken that leadership role.”
For Archer, the leadership role comes with maturity — but it has also come with experience.
“For the first time ever, I ran over the summer, which I haven’t ever done. I think I got in around 450 miles over the summer,” he said. “This year, I’m actually taking it a little more seriously. I’m just trying to do better with it being my senior year and all.”
According to Stevenson, Archer leads the team on and off the course, assisting his teammates with dietary issues, warm-ups and training.
“I see the focus with Will. He’s just dead-on focused, and he’s doing what he needs to do,” Stevenson said. “I couldn’t be more proud of him. I just love the connection that we have.”
Improving both as a leader and runner, Archer showed he’s headed in the right direction as he turned in his best time to date at the meet on Saturday.
“I ran the same course last year and ran 18:15, so I was a little over 30 seconds better,” he said.
Archer competed against schools in higher classifications, but he and the Bulldogs still managed to place well despite the strong competition.
“It was definitely his best race. Sometimes the stats don’t really show what they do,” Stevenson said. “It’s a huge accomplishment to be up there with those teams.”
Earning Athlete of the Week honors after doing so well in Saturday’s race, Stevenson believes will do wonders for the young program that appears to be on the rise.
“I think any good recognition that cross country can get is huge for this team,” she said.
With just more than a month to go before the region championships, Archer believes the success at this point in the season is good, but hopes to keep working towards a strong State Championship defense in November.
“It lets me know that I’m making progress and I’m doing good. It’s a job well done and I just want to keep up the hard work,” he said. “I’m hoping the team can pull out another state title.”