photo courtesy of Gregg Zelkin
In the sports world, most teams have a star player, someone who excels and sets a great example for the rest of the squad. For the cross country team, senior Alex Corbett, who broke records and won titles on his way to earning an athletic scholarship to the University of Virginia, fit perfectly into the role.
Corbett started running cross country his freshman year. Now-retired gym teacher Jay Coakley saw Corbett’s potential when Corbett was in seventh grade running the mile for fitness tests.
“After doing the mile for a fitness test [in seventh grade], [Coakley] saw a lot of potential,” Corbett said. “[Coakley] said ‘Hey, you should join track club.’ At first, [I was skeptical], but then he talked me in to it, and I joined the track club in eighth grade. I then went straight into cross country in high school and really enjoyed it.”
As soon as Corbett started running high school cross country, he had an immediate impact, running for the varsity squad in his first year on the team. During his sophomore year, Corbett made the squad for the state meet, which is made up of the top seven runners on the team. Corbett finished 22nd in that race, and it was during this race that Corbett started to recognize his own potential.
“[When] I got 22nd at the state meet, [it] was great,” Corbett said. “I don’t think I was even ranked there, so I just knew that was the beginning of getting a lot better.”
Since that state meet, Corbett has been tearing up the competition in cross country. He broke the school record at the Burke Lake three-mile, and won the individual state title this year after finishing in second the year before. While Corbett achieved individual glory, he also was able to win the state title with his teammates, giving LB its first boys’ state title since 1987.
“[Winning the state meet was] a dream-like scenario; it was a really good day,” Corbett said. “After crossing the finish line in first, probably the coolest feeling was turning around and seeing my teammate [senior] Kevin Monogue coming in second. Our coach was ecstatic, so it was a really good feeling.”
With a polished resume, college coaches were clamoring for Corbett to come run cross country for their university. After receiving multiple offers from prestigious universities, Corbett decided to attend the University of Virginia.
“Kentucky, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Lehigh and William and Mary [were all interested],” Corbett said. “[but] I decided to go to Virginia. I liked the fact that it was close to home, but kinda different from Northern Virginia. They have a really good team, so I was pretty pumped to be on a team like theirs and for them to be interested in me.”
With his high school cross country career over, Corbett is looking forward to competing in indoor and outdoor track. As of Jan. 27, he was within one second of setting the state indoor two-mile record. Corbett is also looking forward to running at Virginia, which he believes will give him the push he needs to become the best runner he can be.
“After high school, [I want to do] the best I can in college,” Corbett said. “I think running with people that are better than you makes you better, so the fact that I’m going to a team like Virginia who are really good gives me a good feeling about the future.”