2019 Senior Salute: Woodridge's Brayden Whited

(Brayden Whited shown crossing the line first at Centerville's Friday Night Lights in the 2018 open contest). 

Brayden Whited is a 2019 Woodridge graduate who'll be attending the University of Mount Union in the fall. Read about the ups and downs of his high school career below. 

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1) What were some of the highlights of your high school cross country and track and field careers? 

Being apart of two state championships, and two 4x800 relay teams who qualified for State's were some of the highlights of my high school career. However, a lot of the experienes that went on behind the scenes with teammates, like having fun and training rank up there too! Having my brothers right there every step of the way is something you can take for granted, so I tried to make the most of it!  

2) Did you encounter any struggles or adversity along the way that you had to overcome?  

A lot of my high school time was me battling through injuries and struggles, like stress fractures or shin pain. Shins are very hard to deal with, and the number one thing I took away from this was that you have to be very patient. I feel like it's common to have to overcome adversity at this stage because a lot of young athletes go down with injuries and come back stronger and learn from their experiences. You see it with big name Ohio runners, and I'm just grateful I was able to overcome the adversity that I faced.  

3) Aside from the competition, what was the best thing about being apart of the Woodridge program? 

The tradition, the people, the coaches, it brings emotions out of me just talking about what Coach Howard did for me. He took me in as a class clown who didn't care much about school or my future, and turned me into a state qualifier, an All-Ohioan, a state champion, and a successful student who cared about my education and my team. 

Coach Howard is an amazing coach and a truly wonderful person, and his accolades speak for themselves. Another big coaching influence was our assistant, Leah Norris or as we like to call her "Mama Norris." She took us in, taught us stretches, did yoga with us, had meetings with seniors to make sure we're bringing the underclassman up the right way, gave us words of the week and encouragement that went beyond running. Because of her, we had a better team atmosphere at Woodridge. We host clinics for the younger kids to meet the high school athletes, we also run together and were just always doing family oriented and team-bonding things together. This wasn't an obligation, we wanted to do this.

Coach Howard really brings an overall team approach and a family atmosphere that leads to everyone being closer and working well together.  

(Brayden Whited credits his coaches and teammates for much of the success that he's enjoyed).

4) Are there any coaches or teammates that you've worked with over the past four years that you'd like to thank? 

There are a couple that I'd really love to shout-out. The first being coach Howard of course! Also a big shout-out to my best friends from our 2016 state title team, Yousef, Noah, Palm, and Max! Not to mention my favorite junior duo of Zayd Elkurd and Ryan Champa, as well as the rest of this year's squad! 

I'd also like to acknowledge my family, who supported me all throughout high school, and lastly I want to give some recognition to Micah Blair! Micah has been one of my best friends since the first time I stepped on the line next to him, not even knowing him at that point. He was on a different team then. I was introduced to him through who is now one of our best friends, Jack Wilcoxson. 

Ever since that time, me and Micah have been close, and to have someone that's been here for the whole journey -- saying goodbye was tough! Micah has obviously blown up to being a very talked about Ohio runner, a great recruit, and a great person . He's one of my closest friends. He works really hard behind the scenes and I feel like he's not credited enough sometimes for how much extra effort he puts into this sport. I'm excited to watch his final season in high school, along with watching the rest of the Woodridge dogs chase another state title! 

5) What are your plans and goals for the future? Do you intend on continuing with the sport in college or in another capacity? 

My ultimate goal in college is to win national titles, team titles, and individual titles if I stay healthy! I'm looking forward to getting to Alliance, I really love my new team at Mount Union! I'm hoping to achieve a lot of success this fall especially coming off a successful track season, I'd like to get off to a good start and qualify for the national cross country meet this year, and also contribute to a team conference title and getting the team standard to qualify for nationals! 

6) What advice would you give to a younger athlete who's hoping to have a successful and enjoyable high school career?   

My advice to a young high school athlete who is hoping for success would be to be patient, and be involved. Do all the little things, like stretching, core, lifting to tone your muscles, but remember not to get huge! 

Hydrate, and don't cheat yourself! I like to look back every night and ask myself if I felt I'd gotten better today. It's an important question. Also, take hard days hard, and easy days easy. This seems simple, but it's often looked over. You're not going to win your season on a recovery day. Stay humble, and hungry! Set big goals and chip away at them until you've achieved them. 

Everyone goes through hard times and injuries, and it's really important to stay consistent, and stay mentally tough. One way I stayed mentally tough when I was struggling was by deriving motivation from my teammates. They encouraged me that it wasn't over and that I'd be back before I knew it, and that helped me. If you see a teammate hurt, or looking upset, be a friend! Picking someone else up can make or break their mentality. If you're hurt, speak up. You could hurt yourself further by running with an injury. Don't feel like you have to power through it. A lot of experienced runners and coaches will tell you it's not the answer, and personally I've learned this the hard way! 

Last but not least, if you have any questions, or need some advice, ask an upperclassman, coach, or even me! Being a young runner I was faced with a lot of questions having to do with training and nutrition and I was often helped by Coach Howard, Coach Norris and my upperclassman. Finally, enjoy this while it lasts! It goes by very quick, so make memories and hold onto them, be apart of your team and don't be afraid to make friends with these people early, because you'll be with them for four years! Make the most of every race and experience. That's my advice for young runners! 

Brayden Whited / Woodridge Class of 2019

(Brayden Whited along with his Woodridge teammates following their 4x800 victory at the 2019 Division 2 Region 5 meet)