Cromer honored for cross-country running prowess

By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

For 15-year-old Mckenzie Cromer of McDonough, participating in cross-country athletics is all about pushing her limits.

“I like the competition that I have at each race that I go to,” said Cromer. “It makes me want to run faster and push myself harder at practice.”

Mckenzie Cromer, a cross-country athlete from Union Grove High School, was honored recently at Atlanta Track Club’s All-Metro Cross Country Awards Banquet. Special photo

Her approach appears to be working, judging by her most recent achievement. Cromer, a sophomore at Union Grove High School, was among 42 standout athletes recognized at the Atlanta Track Club’s All-Metro Cross Country Awards Banquet, which was held Dec. 6.

“I was shocked,” said Cromer of the moment she learned of the honor. “I didn’t find out until a few days after State. My coach called me and told me.”

Cromer began running cross-country two years ago, and has racked up her share of achievements since then. This year, she emerged victorious in Rock Ranch Invitational competition in September. The following month, she was also a runner-up in a regional cross-country race and is the first runner from her school to earn All-Metro honors at the annual banquet.

Criteria for selection as an All-Metro athlete includes wins at major events, performance at the state meet and an overview of the season.

Cromer said one of her favorite aspects of being on a cross-country team is the camaraderie she enjoys with her teammates. She acknowledged that being a cross-country runner carries its own set of challenges, such as dealing with injuries in competitions or while training.

Still, she said she is fortunate to have never been injured, crediting her coach, Eric Daugherty, with keeping his runners safe.

“He encourages us to stretch ten minutes after each run, drink water and eat enough food,” said Cromer.

Daugherty is in his 16th year as a coach at Union Grove. He began coaching Cromer when she was in seventh grade, and commended her for her athletic abilities.

“She has a good chance to be the best runner Union Grove has seen before she graduates,” said Daugherty. “Her 5K [personal record] of 18:41 is already third best all-time, and she is a sophomore.”

Cromer previously won a county championship as well as being selected All-Region for both track and cross-country. Daugherty credited Cromer’s dedication for helping her to succeed.

“Mckenzie is a very focused student-athlete,” said Daugherty. “She does not like to lose. She is always willing to put in the hard work needed to realize her potential.”

“Mckenzie transforms in competition,” Daugherty continued. “She is a quiet, studious student-athlete when not competing, but she is one of the toughest competitors I have coached. She has the special ability to ‘flip the switch’ when it’s time to compete.”

Atlanta Track Club Executive Director, Rich Kenah, congratulated Cromer and her fellow honorees for their latest honor.

“These harriers represent some of Georgia’s most talented athletes, and we are proud to celebrate their accomplishments alongside their parents and coaches at the 53rd annual All-Metro High School Cross Country Awards Banquet,” said Kenah.

Cromer said although she is undecided on where to attend college, she plans to continue running cross-country in the years to come.

For more information or to see a full list of the 2016 All-Metro Cross Country Team, visit