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Style and Grace

PROCTORVILLE — Traveling long distances seem to be the underlying theme for Gracie Skiles.

The Fairland Lady Dragons’ senior not only likes running the distance races of cross country, she plans to go to North Carolina to continue the sport in college.

Skiles signed a letter-of-intent to run cross country at Brevard College, about a 40-minute drive from Asheville, N.C.

“I’ve always like North Carolina,” said Skiles. “Last year coach (Jon) Buchanan sent out emails to different colleges and I got hold of Brevard. It’s a I-AA school and they were looking for cross country runners.”

Skiles runs track as well for the Lady Dragons, but cross country is her first love.

“I like the long distances of cross country. I feel like I’ve accomplished something,” said Skiles. “I like the community of cross country. It’s different than any other sport.”

Skiles said her main goal right now is to get her times down and help the 4×800-meter relay team get to the regional meet and possibly beyond.

She knows her times need to improve when she reaches the college level and she is prepared to do the work.

“I need to run a lot in the off-season. I try to run all year,” said Skiles. “Their program is more about strength work, but the main thing is getting mileage. I have to follow my workout and pay attention to what my body is telling me.”

Fairland cross country coach Chuck Wentz said Skiles was a leader on the team that won the Div. III district title and advanced to the regionals.

“She’s a leader. We had so many young girls on the team, she was like their mother. She looked out for them, she made sure they knew what to do and she made sure they did what they were supposed to do,” said Wentz.

“She is a really hard worker. She’s made herself what she is.”

Skiles plans to major in art with a concentration on photography at Brevard.

The Tornados are a member of the South Atlantic Conference.