To get faster, Graydon Morris had first to slow down.
Morris finished second Saturday at the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships at Balboa Park in San Diego. The event featured the fastest boys and girls from across America.
The Aledo High School sophomore posted a time of 15 minutes, 23.3 seconds over the 5,000-meter course. The winner was Dylan Jacobs of Orland Park, Illinois, who was clocked in 15:19.7.
The performance comes on the heels of Morris becoming the first boy from Parker County to win a state University Interscholastic League cross country championship, capturing the 5A title in November.
"Going into the race I had a lot more confidence," he said. "It was during the state championship and I started taking my recovery runs a lot more serious, staying injury-free.
"I used to run competitively on my recovery days, trying to beat that mile split. I still run the same distance and everything, just a lot slower on those days."
Recovery days are when a runner still runs in preparation for competition, but at a slower pace to not push themselves too much.
Morris is one of two Fort Worth-area runners to finish in the top 10. Robert Carter Cheeseman of Keller was sixth.
Morris said the course was extremely challenging. He said his experience from running last season and finishing 34th helped.
"You have to get out fast and in front from the beginning. That's important," he said of the course.
From the opening gun, Morris was no farther back than eighth place.
"The uphill part is challenging, and you have to do it twice, and you have two steep downhill areas as well," Morris said. "You also run through a dog park. You get on the sand, and there are some rocky sections, and there's some soft grass in there. It's true cross country."
Morris led at the early part of the race and again at a later point.
"I was going into the race wanting to get top 10. It took a while for it to set in how high I finished," he said.
"Everything that's happening right now is unbelievable. My training is going so well. I can't wait for track season."
Morris captured a silver medal in the 3200 meters and a bronze medal in the 1600 last spring in the UIL Class 5A State Track Meet.