Photo: Southside High senior Will Anglea signed a cross country scholarship with Ripon (Wis.) College on April 21 at the SHS library. Pictured, sitting, from left: mom Jane, Will, dad Jimmy. Standing, from left: Standing, from left: SHS assistant track and field coach RoShard Cargill, SHS track and field head coach Ray Cargill. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Will Anglea has achieved a great many goals over the past few years, but the local long distance runner notched his biggest accomplishment yet on April 21.
The Southside High senior signed a cross country scholarship with Ripon College in Wisconsin, 857 short miles from the SHS campus.
“Just having my family together to celebrate this day together is incredible,” said Anglea, who plans on majoring in pre-med. “I’m just so blessed to have the opportunity to compete at the next level. I went for a visit [to Ripon] in December, and I absolutely fell in love with the place. The campus and facilities are amazing. (Ripon cross country coaches Corey Bins and Bob Wood) are awesome guys, and I felt that I connected really well with both of them.”
After having dealt with 20 stress fractures in his feet over the course of his sixth-year varsity career, Anglea enjoyed a relatively healthy 2021 season that started with his first-place performance at the Etowah County Schools cross country meet this past October. At the state meet in November, he placed 20th out of 247 runners in Class 6A.
Anglea helped the Panthers win the Etowah County Schools track and field meet by winning the second-place silver in both the 800-meter run and 1600-meter run and being a member of Southside’s gold medal winning 4×800-meter relay team along with Ryan Maudsley, Jackson Griggs and Luke Holcombe.
Anglea and his 4×800 teammates broke the school record in that event at the Hewitt-Trussville Invitational on April 16 with a time of 8:26.45, seven seconds faster than the group’s previous PR. He helped the Panthers place sixth out of 14 teams at the Class 6A Section 4 Meet in late April with his part on the third place 4×800 team. Anglea earned the opportunity to compete in the 1600 and 3200-meter runs and 4×800-meter relay events at the Class 6A state meet in Gulf Shores.
Anglea said he deals with the lingering pain from his injuries on a day by day basis.
“[The pain] is going to be a continuous battle for me, but I’ve learned how to manage it over the years. But at the same time, I’ve gotten a lot stronger and run some really good times.”
Anglea noted out how much the SHS cross country program has grown since he joined, pointing to 2017 SHS graduate and 2021 UAH graduate Hunter Nails as the catalyst for that success.
“Hunter Nails is what I consider to be the pioneer for the Southside cross country that we know today. There were five members of the team when he was in the eighth grade in 2014, and today we have over 65 members. He started a culture that hopefully we helped to continue.
“We’re not putting [cross country] off to the side like a lot of other schools do. We want to bring in people who want to work and who aren’t going to be lazy or a toxin. We’re a family, and we want people to look at us and say, ‘I want to be a part of that.’ We want to make [cross country] our main topic.”
“Hard work is how you arrive at this point, and there’s no better example of that than Will,” said SHS cross country coach Kim Nails. “I knew from very early on that Will was special. From the time he came out for cross country) in the seventh grade, Will would take a picture of his watch after he ran on his own during the weekends to send me. It turned out that he had not only done what I told him to, but he had done a little bit extra. So Will was already overachieving at that point.”
Nails noted that Anglea has overcome more obstacles than his classmates would encounter during their lifetimes.
“It seemed as if there were more challenges for Will with every passing year, yet he responded with more determination. Many people questioned what Will continued to run with multiple boots and casts on his feet and at one time spending two months in a wheelchair. But quitting was not an option for Will. Self-discipline and determination allowed Will to excel both in running and in the classroom, and the depths of his determination cannot be measured. Will has impeccable character and leadership qualities, and he encourages all those around to be the best they can be and goes out of his way to show compassion those in need. I can’t wait to see what he’ll accomplish in college.”