Up Close & Personal with Aaron Wilkins

Banner Elk, NC--Join us today as we continue our Up Close series of interviews with the Bobcat runners with freshman Aaron Wilkins. A native of Mt. Airy, NC, Aaron is used to the small town life offered here in Banner Elk.

1. What made you decide to come to Lees-McRae? Well, my high school coach gave me a few colleges that wanted me to run for them, and I saw Lees-McRae. He told me the program was really great and that I would bond with all the guys easily. So I talked to Coach McPhail, liked what I heard and headed on up.

2. What are your personal goals for this season? One of the biggest goals I've set for myself this season is to help the team to nationals. I believe that we have a fighting chance and whenever there's a chance I'm willing to give it all for my teammates. My individual goal is to run around 27:00 minutes or just under for the 8k. I've started off a little rough but with the training and intensity of my running I'm confident in my abilities.

3. What is your favorite part of cross country here at Lees-McRae? It would definitely have to be the location. Having so many places to run and explore keeps me from getting in that phase of boring, repetitive running. Not only is the location spectacular, the altitude provides the much more intense training that I've been looking for. Running at these higher altitudes provides the unique environment that I need to excel and be the best that I can be. I love the atmosphere of this places and the guys are always pushing me to be the best. I couldn't ask for anything better than that.

4. Who has been the most influential person on your athletic career?
My family. They've always told me that if you have the gift that God gave you to run, use it to its fullest. Also, my high school coach as well, Rex Mitchell, who made me the runner I am today.

5. If you weren't a runner, what other sport would you play? I have no idea, maybe swimming because I wouldn't make it far in any other sports.

6. What is your major and what do you plan to do with your degree? I'm hoping to go into Criminal Justice and then afterwards head off to law school and become a lawyer.

7. If you could travel back in time to any point in history, where would you go? I would like to go back to the beginning of the 70's for one main reason, to watch Steve Prefontaine race. In the beginning of the 1970's and all the way until 1975 when he was tragically killed in an automobile accident, he was at peak performance. It would be such an inspiration to see him race.

8. What is your favorite band? My favorite band would have to be 30 Seconds to Mars.

9. What is your favorite book? Running with the Buffaloes would have to be a favorite.

10. If you could visit any place in the world, where would it be? I would really like to go somewhere in Europe because, to me, that part of the world is fascinating. New Zealand, Ireland, or Italy would be a few I'd like to see.

11. What is one word that describes you and why?
Perseverance; I believe strongly in that even when the tough gets tougher, you have to keep pushing forward. I've always loved to challenge myself everyday to see how good I really can be in anything I do. I hope that this mentality will help the team in achieving the goals we desire and my personal goals as well.

Aaron's Story...Well to start off, I've always lived in the same old house all my life. I've grown up in Mt. Airy, N.C for 18 years now with my mom, Katie Wilkins, my dad, Robert (Bob) Wilkins, and my older sister Shea. I have always lived in the small town atmosphere and basically knew everyone that lived around me. It's roughly a two hour drive from here to where I live, so I still keep in touch with my family and friends.

I went to Surry Central High School and graduated in 2007 with a class of about 175. I made friends throughout high school that I'll have for the rest of my life and wouldn't change a thing. I've always been somewhat of an athletic person, trying every sport I could get a hold of. When I was little I played baseball and wasn't very good so I moved on to pee-wee football. Trying my hand at that was nonsuccessful also, being that I was way too small for it. Soccer was my next choice, and I wasn't half bad at it. I played mostly defense because of my speed and couldn't do much else. Then, my 7th grade year I decided to run track and I loved it! I had finally found something I was good at. I never stopped to think that in all the other sports I had tried, the only thing I could really do was run.

I've been running for a little over six years. Coming into high school we had a awesome cross country program and I caught on quick. With five straight state championships, we were dedicated to be the best we could be. Our high school coach was great. He helped me succeed in places I only dreamed of. If it wasn't for him, I would most likely not be here running right now.

After graduating, my coach told me about Lees-McRae and the running program they had here and their success. And as you can see, I took his advice and came up here to be a Bobcat. So far, I would not have changed a thing. Everyone up here is so nice and helpful with me in not only athletics, but academics as well. The guys are a great bunch and really easy to get along with. Training with them will definitely get me to the next level that I want to achieve. So far, my cross country season has been choppy, but with all the hard work and training I've done I'm confident that I'll end it with a bang.