By TREY WILLIAMS
Three David Crockett runners have chosen to remain Pioneers in college.
Bryson Livesay, Gideon Dowling and David Buckley will remain teammates at Tusculum University.
Coaching was one of the primary factors in each of the runner’s decision.
“Coach (Cory) Pratt and the team (were factors),” Livesay said. “The coaching at Tusculum is really good, which makes running and training almost like an actual job, and I truly felt connected to the team like a family.
“And I feel that bringing David and Gideon will not only make Tusculum closer, but make us better as a team.”
Buckley is eager to begin the next chapter in his life.
“The reason I chose to continue running at Tusculum University is because the coaching there is really amazing,” Buckley said, “and the team there is a great group of guys that I can’t wait to run with.”
Dowling was sold on the academics, too.
“Tusculum is just a great school,” Dowling said. “I really loved the campus. It’s very pretty and it’s close to home. Also, just the student-to-teacher ratios really encourages better class participation and I will not just be a number in my class, but my teachers will actually care if I’m there.
“And the team just seems awesome and they seem like a family there.”
Crockett became a tighter family under caring Coach Mark Jennings during the pandemic year. The Pioneers endured multiple quarantines, and Livesay and Dowling rallied to finish in the top 10 in the district.
“It’s so amazing going to the same college as your best friends,” Dowling said. “Bryson has been my friend, coach and running buddy since the end of junior year. We have been through so much.
“Whether it be early morning long runs or late-night hills, we went through it together. And David is just an awesome guy who really cares for others and he has been an awesome encouragement to the team and to me.
“He gave me tips on how to get faster and he never gave up when me and Bryson would pick up the pace on an ‘easy’ run.
“I think my favorite moments were the entire summer practice period just running with the boys having a good time while still putting in the work. Enjoying pushing each other really made for an awesome summer.”
A number of inspirations helped fuel the Pioneers’ spirits.
“An inspirational influence that I had was Mark Jennings,” Livesay said. “I’ve been running for him for seven years and he has shown the importance of teamwork and that you must be driven to find success in sports.”
Parents were way up the list as well.
“I’m pretty new to the cross country/track world and I’ve been able to have a lot of success just in these two years of running,” Dowling said, “and I owe a lot of my success to my cheerleader and amazing mom, who always pushed me to be better than what I thought I could be. She never let me give up and I’m so thankful that she didn’t.
“My dad is also my inspiration. He ran in high school, and my competitive self made it my goal to break all of his personal best. And I’ve done pretty well at it so far.”
Buckley echoed similar sentiments.
“I couldn’t have gotten this far if it was not for my mom, friends and coaches. They have all pushed me to be the best athlete and person I could possibly be and I am beyond grateful for all of them.
“Some of my favorite moments at Crockett are probably the bus rides after meets, the fun times at practice and just all the good memories I have made while running for Crockett.”