KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — What makes a great runner?
"You need some raw speed, some natural endurance, desire and willingness to work, the will to win and durability," said Catholic Cross Country and Track coach Sean O'Neil.
"Jake is the only person I've had that I can say has all five of those going for him."
Jake Renfree, a senior cross country runner at Catholic, used those five characteristics to earn this season's Gatorade Tennessee Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year Honor. Renfree adore's the sport he's had so much success with.
"People are like why do you run, and I say I don't really know, It's not fun," said Renfree.
Okay, maybe 'adore' is too strong of a word.
"It's not enjoyable to go run eight miles at a time in the pouring rain."
You're not making this any easier Jake!
It's not the running part that Renfree loves. There's more to it.
"I like racing, that's by far my favorite part. I just like competing and being able to push myself to another level and that's really what it is, is what it comes down to," Renfree said. "That's probably my main motivation."
That doesn't surprise O'Neil.
"I think it takes a certain type of personality, you have to, on some level, enjoy the suffering."
And there's plenty of that during the run.
"My legs don't feel great," Renfree said, "but at the same time I have so much adrenaline pumping through my body you just kind of tune out."
Renfree has done a pretty good job of tuning things out over the past four years. A couple of state titles for the Fighting Irish, first team all-american honors and now a chance to run in college. He will attend Notre Dame in the fall.
"This has kind of been my life for the past four years," Renfree said. "I didn't think I would get this far at all, so just to get recognition for all the hours, all the late night studying, all the late afternoons running, all the early mornings... get up run 15 miles, who wants to do that? Nobody wants to do that!"
Even if he started off hating it, Renfree loves what running has taught him.
"If I want it, I've got to work hard at it and I'll get it done."