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James Clemens cross country runner Dylan Dryer, No. 2259 leads a pack of runners in a recent race and is currently ranked among the top 10 in the United States among eighth grade students as he runs for the James Clemens program. Photo Contributed

Dylan Dryer One Of The Top Eighth Grade Runners In The U.S.

MADISON- Dylan Dryer is in a class of his own. The 13-year old Liberty Middle School eighth grade student-athlete participates for the James Clemens varsity cross country team and currently has the fastest time for an eighth grader in Alabama and is ranked No. 9 nationally in the United States.

“I’ve never seen anyone like his talent at this age in all of my years of coaching,” said Drew Bell head coach of James Clemens.

The straight “A” student and son of Michael and Nakeetsha Dryer, the 5-foot-10, 125-pound speedster is undefeated against the same age competition and recently placed 16th overall in the Last Chance Invitational against varsity runners some as much as five years older. Just how does Dryer conjure up the talents to seemingly be on a path to success?

“I may be more focused than others as I set my goals each time I run in a race,” said Dryer. “I’m also inspired by my father who was once a big-time runner.”

The elder Dryer was a 10-time state champion in cross country and track while attending Fort Payne High School located on Northeast Alabama. He also lettered at the University of Alabama from 1992-1996. He led his son into cross country by chance many years ago.

“I was seven years old and I attended a one-mile fun run with my dad for his job,” said Dryer. “I placed second to an 11-year old. When we moved here to Madison from Madison, Miss. when I was in the fifth grade I joined a small Heritage Elementary Running Club, which led me to the track program at James Clemens where I ran the 800-meter and one-mile events on the track team.”

As a small boy Dryer played mostly soccer and was regarded as a fast runner with stamina unlike most of his counterparts. He also plays basketball, does bike tricks on his two wheeler and has a hobby of playing video games.

“My current goal is to be the fastest on our team by the end of this season,” said Dryer. “I seem to focus on my goals very well as I would love to earn a scholarship to college through my running.”

Dryer knows his athletic body and he lets it take him on a different pace at each race winding through the competition on a spectacular pace and maneuver his way on sometimes treacherous courses made up of an array of different landscapes.

“One thing I’ve learned is to let my adrenalin come on naturally as sometimes I can be a little aggressive in my style of running in races,” said Dryer. “Also, I don’t think myself as a middle school runner. I’m always working hard to improve.”

His posted time of 16-minutes, 57-seconds in the James Clemens’ hosted Last Chance Invitational was his personal best in the 5K distance. He’s well aware of his place in the sport both in the state and nationally, but his inner-spirit has told him to beware. “You never know when others may come along and knock you off that spot. I give glory to God for making me the athlete I am and I keep focused each time I’m at the start line,” said Dryer.

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