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Winfield’s Griffiths lives with the curse of running

Published May 29 at 7:43 p.m. | Last updated May 31 at 7:31 a.m.

Courtney Griffiths will tell you she hates running.

She claims to hate the physical toll it puts on her body. And how time-consuming it can be. And how hard it is.

But Griffiths, a junior at Winfield, doesn’t really hate running. She loves it. She loves the adrenaline rush of winning a race. And the sense of accomplishment she feels after a good meet. And the opportunities it has created for her.

“I always say I hate running, but I just mean it half-heartedly,” Griffiths said. “To be really good at it, you have to give your all every day. It’s so just really hard to do that day after day. But on the flip side, winning feels really good. So I hate running and I love running. It’s definitely a love-hate thing.”

Griffiths enters this weekend’s state track and field meet at Cessna Stadium as a Class 4A title favorite in the 400 and 800 meters, yet is uncertain about her future in the sport.

Division I schools have already begun to inquire about the junior, who has the state’s second-best 400 time this season (57.17 seconds) and the third-best 800 time (2:18.32). Griffiths has also run outstanding times in the 200 (25.99) and the 1600 (5:22.69).

And her potential is even higher because Griffiths did not run in the off-season to build her base. This is all coming from in-season work.

“I would love to see her go on to the next level because I think she has the talent to have a very successful career,” Winfield distance coach Torey Keller said. “Sometimes it’s a little frustrating for me as a coach, but your heart has to be into it.”

Keller is more familiar with Griffith’s love and hate toward running than anyone.

He’s the one giving her the bad news of her workout for the day, which typically elicits a groan and a bit of complaining.

But she always does the work, no matter how much she puts off that she doesn’t want to.

“When the gun fires or the workout starts, she’s always giving it her best,” Keller said. “It’s kind of like a front because I’ve never seen her lay down and not compete.”

Ever since last season, when she was nipped at the line by Baldwin’s Morgan Lober in the 400, denying her a state title by less than a tenth of a second, Griffiths has been on a rampage for redemption.

When she is lacking for motivation on a particular practice day, Griffiths still draws from that day as inspiration.

“I could see myself winning the race and then when I didn’t, that hurt,” Griffiths said. “So if I’m ever having trouble, I go back to state and think about what it was like to lose that race and it pushes me to go just a little bit faster every time.”

There is plenty of time for Griffiths to plan for her future and decide if the love outweighs the hate when it comes to running.

But for one weekend, at least, Griffiths wants love to win out.

“To win a state title, to know that you had the fastest time and you were able to accomplish something as grand as state, it’s just … really appealing to me,” Griffiths said. “I want to win and know my best was the best.”