Dakota Norris Wants to Climb to New Heights

Dakota Norris of Mitchell High School was 4th last year at the 2A state championships and

would like to finish higher this year.


Dakota lives about an hour from the base of Mt. Mitchell. For those that don't remember their 4th grade Social Studies curriculum, Mt. Mitchell is the highest point in North Carolina at 6,684 feet. Dakota lives at about 3,000 feet above sea level and often trains even higher when at Roan Mountain. Going to new heights is no problem for Dakota, so climbing to the top of the 2A classification is something he truly looks forward to.


A lot of you probably have no idea where Mitchell is, so here's Dakota's explanation.


"Mitchell County borders Tennessee, and it is about an hour northeast of Asheville and almost an hour southwest of Boone. We border Avery County to the north, Yancey to the south, and McDowell to the east."


Now that we know where Dakota lives, let's meet the guy who hopes to win the 2A state title. Dakota's PR's are: 5k-16:04, 1600m-4:39, 800m-2:00, & 400m-52


Coach Hovis: You've had a strong season thus far. You seem to have really progressed since the first race, 17:14 at WNC to 16:04 at Freedom and most recently a 16:09 at Hagan Stone. How do you feel the season has gone thus far?


Dakota Norris: I have always considered myself to be a late-bloomer. I believe in getting stronger as the season progresses, so that I don't get burnt out. Overall, I'm pleased with my performances and confident that the work I've put in will show in the important races-regionals and state. 


Coach Hovis: I believe Josey Weaver of Madison is in your conference, correct? When is that race and how have your races gone against him so far this season? 


Dakota Norris: Conference is on Thursday, October 18. So far, Josey has gotten the better of me in all of our three meetings this season. Josey has been consistent all year. I just hope that my patience will pay off. 


Coach Hovis: How many kids are on your team? How is your training since you are the best on the team?


Dakota Norris: There are 13 members on our team. The team is comprised mostly of first-time runners, so I usually train alone. However, I do train with the team during speed workouts. We have people at different spots on the track running portions of my intervals to give me someone to chase. It benefits both them and me.


Coach Hovis: What was your summer training like?


Dakota Norris: I completely took off the first three weeks of June to allow my body to recover from a illness that hit me toward the end of track season. I spent the last week of June at team basketball camps. I played basketball as a freshman but quit to pursue running. I am playing this year because I am a senior and I want to contribute as much as I can to my school. But I really got in some quality training during the remainder of the summer. My mileage was around 40. I really focused on tempos and longer intervals. I also did a lot of core strengthening that added about 10 pounds of muscle. I feel like it has really paid off.


Coach Hovis: What do you enjoy more, track of XC?


Dakota Norris: I definitely like XC better because I don't have to sit around for hours waiting on my event to come up like in track. Plus, I hate running in circles.


Coach Hovis: What's your favorite course you race on in North Carolina? How do like Tanglewood?


Dakota Norris: My favorite course is the Freedom course hands down. There's just a great atmosphere there. Tanglewood is probably my second favorite. Being a runner with a decent kick, I love the downhill finish. It really favors my running style.


Coach Hovis: You're the #2 returner in 2A this year behind Zachary Bryan from Reidsville. However, Josey Weaver & Mark Sullivan have also been running well. What are your goals for the state meet? 


Dakota Norris: Of course I desperately want to win state but if I don't, I'm going to make the guy in front of me work hard for it. I'm going to bring a lot of energy to that race. It's my senior year, and I want to go out with a bang.


Coach Hovis: What are your plans for next year?


Dakota Norris: I will mostly likely be attending ETSU, but that's not certain. I am going to run wherever I go for at least my first year.


Dakota has a great shot at winning the 2A state title this year. Here's a look at how the individuals in his classification look. Dakota is at the top with his 16:04 at Freedom and 16:09 at Hagan Stone. It looks as if it will be a 4 person showdown come November 3rd. From watching Dakota run a couple times this season, I can tell you that he will be making people hurt. That's just how he races.