Some runners never see anything but open road and the finish line.
And others, such as Stadium High School’s Shay Glackin-Coley, embrace the wide-angle view.
It’s not that Glackin-Coley isn’t competitive — the Tigers’ senior is the middle of his finest season in boys cross country, with his latest result a third-place finish at the Class 4A Narrows League championships last week at Fort Steilacoom Park in Lakewood.
A finish outside the top 10 at the “Westside Classic” district meet Saturday at American Lake Golf Course would be considered a mild disappointment, given his emergence this fall.
“He is an athlete who has battled some injuries, but has always worked hard,” Bellarmine Prep coach Matt Ellis said. “And it is all coming to fruition.”
When Glackin-Coley started running, he never had thoughts of becoming the next great American distance runner, like Bill Rogers, Alberto Salazar or even Galen Rupp.
“I always liked to go on runs through the neighborhood, or wherever I wanted to go just to explore things,” Glackin-Coley said. “It was a good way for me to get all of that energy out there, and sort through some of the things in my head.”
In his early years, Glackin-Coley tried other sports “just like any old American kid.” His brother, Corey, was a starter on the Stadium basketball team, graduating in 2013.
His father, Kevin, recommended he try out for a track squad at the Morgan Family YMCA in north Tacoma, which he did in sixth grade.
“I got serious about it in middle school,” Glackin-Coley said. “I liked the whole training aspect of it, and the culture of it.”
His career at Stadium has been nothing but a one-shoe on, one-shoe off adventure.
He came into high school as a 5-foot-6 ninth grader, Tigers cross country coach George Ybarra said.
“It seemed like he grew a quarter-inch each week,” Ybarra said. “He kept sprouting up. His body never stabilized.”
Glackin-Coley’s hamstring and back ached. Both knees were always hurting. A hip injury flared up from time to time.
By the time he was finished with his sophomore year, Glackin-Coley was 6-2.
“They were just nagging things … and they definitely got in the way because I wasn’t able to train all the time,” said Glackin-Coley, who is now 6-3. “I won’t use it as an excuse, but it did get in the way.”
And last spring, he suffered a quadriceps injury right before the start of the track and field season that hampered his performance.
It wasn’t until last summer when the teenager began feeling strong and healthy again. And he was careful in his summer workouts, which consisted of a lot of “10-mile tempo” runs — never exceeding 70 miles in a week.
“I won’t say my legs are delicate,” Glackin-Coley said, “but I was wary of being hurt.”
Refreshed and motivated, Glackin-Coley sizzled right off the bat this fall. He led much of the elite 5-kilometer race at the Fort Steilacoom Invitational in September before losing in the final 100 meters to 4A South Puget Sound League champion Graeme Schroeder of Tahoma.
Schroeder won the race in 15 minutes, 57.85 seconds. Glackin-Coley was second in 16:04.01.
Two weeks later, Glackin-Coley posted his personal-best 5K time of 15:43.53 at the Curtis Invitational at Chambers Bay in University Place.
Glackin-Coley has two primary goals to finish off the season. One of them is placing in the top 15 at the Class 4A meet in Pasco. The last Stadium runner to accomplish that was David Schroedel, who finished 13th at the 1994 state championships.
That high of a finish should get Glackin-Coley a berth to the Nike “Border Clash” on Nov. 23 in Beaverton, Oregon, where the top runners from Washington race the best ones from Oregon.
“Shay wanted to be able to compete in that upper echelon,” Ybarra said. “He now believes that he can.”
After high school — not surprisingly — Glackin-Coley intends to take a year off to travel and see the world, just like his brother did last year.
“I want to see some things,” Glackin-Coley said. “I’ve been here my whole life.”