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Oxford Students Ready for What’s Next

Ready for what’s next

Oxford, AL – Oxford’s Keur, George have left their mark in county cross country circles, Jackets coach Delozier projects big things for his county champions going forward at UAB, UAH

By Al Muskewitz

The last time the cross-country public saw Oxford’s Katie Keur and Noah George on the course they were coming from completely different places.

Keur was feeling a sense of accomplishment, pulling in a fourth-place finish in the rain and mud at the state cross country championship. George, on the other hand, was cold, wet, muddy and disappointed after a slip in the worst running conditions imaginable kept him from closing his career all-state or better.

They were both in an even happier place Monday. The two county champions were all smiles, celebrating the college commitments they made a week ago – Keur with UAB and George with Alabama-Huntsville.

“You two are very, very special and you’ve left your mark,” Yellow Jackets coach Landon Delozier said. “Each of you are very distinct and have extremely different qualities that make you special, but there are a few defining characteristics that make you both very similar.

“Things like a lifelong dedication to your craft, constant self-critique, an insane work ethic, the ability to push when no one is around to appreciate your efforts. And through all of the ups and downs that running can offer, it’s nearly a superpower that you still know how to have fun with it.”

Another similarity between the two is there were times early in their running careers neither would have expected to be sitting there Monday talking about signing scholarships to run cross country in college, although Delozier projected both would “thrive” at the next level and beyond.

“You both are strong, smart and persistent and that is why you will succeed at the next level,” Delozier said. “You never let things tear you down but instead look at low points as a place to learn from, and believe me we have had those low points and you have proved that you can handle anything. You both are going to do big things in the next four years for UAB and UAH.”

Keur, who suffered shin sprints as a sophomore, said she would have laughed several years ago if anyone suggested she’d run in college. George, meanwhile, always dreamed of playing on the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team until his parents encouraged him to give cross country a try after transferring to Oxford from Sacred Heart.

Both made incredible strides during their career. Keur’s broke 20 minutes for the first time last year at the state meet and ran a personal best 18:22 at this year’s sectionals. With the exception of two races this year she ran better times every race than the one before.

“I was pretty confident in my training from the summer because we put in a lot of miles and a lot of hard work, so it’s not like it was unexpected, but it was still a little bit surprising,” Keur said.

As her star began to rise she looked into Kennesaw State, South Alabama and, for a brief time, Auburn, but, she said, “nothing fit like UAB did.” The Blazers were, in fact, the first program to reach out to her and were the most consistent in their contact.

George ran 18:45 in his cross country debut as a ninth grader with a PR of 17:46 for that season. This year he ran a personal best 15:36 at the Black & Gold Invitational in Scottsboro. He chose UAH in part because it was one of the few schools with his major (aerospace engineering) and his sport, and he’s excited about how the coaching staff develops its athletes.

Both own the school record. In fact, Keur holds school record sin six cross country and indoor/outdoor track events. George holds five school marks.

And all that messy business at the state meet? It’s long been in George’s rear view mirror.

“I am still upset about it,  but I’ve put it behind me,” he said. “I always wish I could have had it turn out differently, but I’m just ready for the next race and ready for indoor/outdoor (track).”

Cover photo of Oxford star runners Noah George and Katie Keur for East Alabama Sports Today by Dana Stewart George

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