BRADENTON — It was all David Marvel could do to finish.
The then-Southeast-High freshman was in the middle of his first 5K, and all he could think about was making his way to the finish line.
Marvel knew nothing about cross country when he joined the Southeast High cross-country team four years ago. But, in the middle of the 2009 Canes Classic, Marvel, who had only been through a handful of cross-country practices, realized just how difficult his newfound sport could be.
“I just wanted to run,” Marvel says. “I never knew anything about cross country. I (quickly) found out that the practices are hard. That first practice I think I ran a mile. It was extremely hard and tiring.”
Marvel ultimately finished his first 5K, crossing the finish line it 35:29.08, but at the time, he wasn’t quite sure the sport was for him.
He thought about quitting cross country at the end of his freshman year, but decided to stick with the sport after attending a cross-country summer camp at Appalachian State University, in North Carolina.
“I just didn’t feel like quitting,” Marvel says.
From that point on, Marvel set individual goals for himself, including making the Seminoles varsity squad and steadily lowering his time.
Now four years later, Marvel, who is the Seminoles team captain and top runner, has dropped more than 18 minutes off of his original time.
After finishing sixth in his age group at this year’s Canes Classic, Marvel achieved his first goal of the season Sept. 29, at the Seffner Christian Invitational when he broke Southeast’s previous school record of 17:48. Marvel crossed the finish line in 17:46.62, breaking the school record by nearly two seconds.
Marvel followed up his record-setting performance with a fourth-place finish at the Don Bishop Invitational Oct. 6, crossing the finish line in 17:27 and dropping nearly 20 more seconds of his personal best time.
“I cut my times in half from freshman year,” Marvel says. “It took a good mindset and a lot of dedication.”
Marvel has three meets remaining before the Class 2A-District 10 cross-country meet Nov. 2, where he has his sights set on winning a district championship.
Marvel and the rest of the Seminoles advanced to the Class 2A-Region 3 meet last season for the first time in 14 years, when Marvel placed seventh individually. Marvel is seeking a return to the regional meet again this season and, hopefully, become Southeast’s first male cross-country runner to advance to the state meet.
“It’d prove that I have the drive to make it,” Marvel says. “I can do anything I put my mind to.”
In addition to running cross country, Marvel also serves as the commander for the Southeast drill team and plans to run track for the first time this spring. Marvel also spends time working with his dad as a home inspector. Marvel became the youngest state-licensed home inspector when he received his home inspector’s license in March 2010 at the age of 15.
Marvel, who received the captain’s award and was named the Seminoles’ Most Valuable Runner last fall, has aspirations of running cross country at the University of North Florida, while earning a degree in athletic training or exercise science in hopes of becoming a physical therapist.
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].