There was no doubt that North Surry cross country standout Matthew Mayes was going to be running in college somewhere. Tusculum College of Greeneville, Tenn. might need to thank his mom that they’re the lucky school.
Mayes, who committed to the NCAA Division II program back in December but didn’t sign until April 13, had a number of suitors, including one that his mother Sandra put a veto on.
“I’ve talked to a lot of schools since my junior year, but didn’t get any offers then,” said the defending Western Piedmont Athletic Conference champ at 3200 meters. “My first visit was Methodist, and then Pfeiffer offered me and I went to visit there. Tusculum called, and (Coach Cory Pratt) called me and I went up there. I thought the team, the coach and the environment were just really good. It felt like home.”
In the end, it came down to the Pioneers and two other schools, though.
“I considered Pfeiffer strongly, and Florida Gulf Coast, but my mom wouldn’t let me go there,” he said, as Sandra Mayes confirmed that the school famous for “Dunk City” was just a little too far from home for her liking.
At Tusculum, Mayes will compete on the cross country team. He is still trying to decide between criminal justice and sports management as his field of study, but said he is leaning toward criminal justice.
Mayes was a North Surry mainstay on the track and cross country teams for the last four years, and he will be missed, both in and out of competition.
“He’s an excellent teammate, he leads by example and all of the kids look up to him,” said NSHS cross-country coach Travis Gammons. “He’s so good at what he does that everyone wants to follow his lead and emulate him. He does well in the classroom, has a GPA of 3.5, and he’s just a well-rounded young man.”
Mayes claimed his share of laurels during his career at North Surry. He cited the Hounds winning the 2015 WPAC cross country title last October as a highlight of his career. As an individual, Mayes finished second overall in the conference championship meet at Surry Central. That performance, in which he trailed only an all-state performer from Forbush, lifted his team to the league crown by a single point over the arch-rival Golden Eagles. It was the first team title for the Hounds since the 2004 season.
“When we won that title, he said that winning the team title meant as much to him as any individual award,” Gammons said. “That says a lot about what kind of person he really is.”
He has only a few more meets left before he will graduate from North Surry and move on to college, but there’s still time to add to his achievements. On May 2, he’ll defend his 3200 title in the WPAC championships at West Stokes, and then the regional and perhaps state meets await.
Once that’s all done, the three-time all-conference runner, who has been running competitively since the eighth grade, admits he’ll have to make some adjustments.
“It’s going to be hard moving on,” he said. “It’s going to be a different scenario, running in college and not seeing Coach Gammons or Ms. (Julie, the former NSHS cross country coach) Gammons, or Coach (Janice) Simmons or Coach (Dalton) Tedder.”
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.