The first time All County Track star, Ashley Hayes ran she wasn't sure it was her sport.
“The summer before I started high school, I went out with one of my friends from the neighborhood to run with the cross country team for one of the summer sessions,” Hayes said. “And I thought I wouldn’t make it. I couldn’t believe how hard it was.”
She pushed through that summer attending more of the informal training sessions and getting a little more comfortable each week, but it wasn’t until the season officially started and she began working with Coach Ed Purpura that she realized she might have some potential.
“Coach has a way of pushing you to do something you had no idea you could do,” Hayes said.
Since that time Ashley has stood out on the track and cross country team at Each year she has gotten a little faster and a little more dominant, eventually working her way up to the top seven on the cross country team.
Though running started as a way to stay active in high school, Hayes says it has become a bigger part of her life than she expected. Most of her friends are on the team and much of her life outside of cross country and track involves running, in one form or the other.
Last Christmas she and a group of running friends organized a fun impromptu evening that combined running and Christmas carols. One of the highlights of her summer was racing the Warrior Dash, a muddy 5k obstacle course, with her friend Michelle and both of their fathers.
But running is only part of Hayes’ life. Through Project Lead the Way at SPHS, Ashley has discovered a keen interest in architecture and hopes to attend either Clemson University or Virginia Tech.
She spent her summer working as an intern with a local architect and had the opportunity to sit in on meetings with clients and learned how to draw up floor plans side-by-side with an experienced architect.
Because architecture is an intense five year program, Hayes understands that this year will be her last running for a team. She plans to make the most of the time she has. After a track season plagued by injury, Hayes has three goals this year. She wants to remain in the top seven, make Cross Country All County and stay injury free.