Eli Belflower helps lead the pack as a member of the Bleckley County Cross Country team, a program that is storied in rich tradition and a sport he's been active with since the 6th grade.
"It's kind of addictive once you get going. It feels kind of weird if you don't do it. I just think about the days events, what I need to train for, and it gives me a good time to reflect," says Belflower.
On the track in the spring, Eli also helps carry the load, so naturally in the fall, the senior helps the purple-and-gold achieve more success on the trail to his hard work and dediction.
Coach Shelly Cranford says, "He started with me in middle school, and in the 8th grade, he wanted to try middle school football, and he did, but realized that wasn't for him, so he came back to cross country in the 9th grade and came out for track last year and was a double-region winner for us, and he's been a great leader for us."
Eli works just as hard hitting the books, sporting a 4.0 GPA and a finalist for top honors in the class of 2014.
Belflower says, "I've spent a lot of time studying. It's just really important. I'm not really sure what I want to do in college, but I think I want to be an engineer."
Coach Cranford says, "He's a senior, so he's really good in the classroom and he's just as good out here on the field. He's just a great person to be around."
So as Eli and 8 other seniors help pace the Running Royals, they also look to capture their boys' 8th and girls' 11th region title in a row, the senior wants to leave another positive mark on his legacy.
"We don't really get a lot of school publicity. Nobody really knows what we do and this is a really hard sport. Ideally, football and baseball take up all the attention, but this is just as hard as anything else, if not harder," says Belflower.
The Bleckley County girls' and boys' teams both won regional cross country titles.
That makes it 11 in a row for the girls, and eight in a row for the boys.