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Raymond crosses the finish line

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Cole Raymond, two time State medalist, six time DAC Champion, and now recent Indiana University commit has had one of the most successful cross country careers in LaPorte High School history.

Raymond’s success story dates back to the beginning of his first year at Kesling Middle School, now LaPorte Intermediate. 

“I started running in 6th grade. I didn’t weigh enough to play football growing up, so it was kind of a tough transition because I’d never really ran before, and my mom kind of threw me in it to get me out of the house or something like that. I was decent at the beginning, but I kind of just fell in love with the sport, and that’s led me to where I am at now,” Raymond said.

With years passing and more hours running on the course, Raymond is now comfortably placing first in his races and his love for cross country has continued to thrive.

“I feel like running is referred to as ‘another sports punishment,’ but I feel most free doing it. I enjoy running and that could be different for some people’s eyes to see. I don’t necessarily have a specific reason why I am running except that I just love the sport and love doing it,” Raymond said.

Raymond has had a stellar career at LaPorte High School, but he gives merit to his amazing coaching staff.

“I give a lot of credit to my coaching staff. After I won my first meet, coach Corbin Slater had the next four set up because I plan on going to Louisville, Ohio, and then Alabama to run three more races. I give all and tons of credit to him for being patient with me, knowing when to get me fit at the right time, and being at my best, so I give a lot of credit to him. It does take a lot of hard work, but it’s easy when you have a support staff like teammates who I can run with everyday. It just makes it so much easier,” Raymond said.

Along with having a grade A support group, Raymond also has many people that inspire him in his day to day life.

“I have a lot of people who I’ve looked up to, a lot of pro runners, Collegiate runners. I look at my family a lot and how my dad and mom talk about me and try to instill pride in me. ‘You can never settle to be average.’ Two big pro sport guys, both graduates of Colorado University, Joe Klecker and Morgan Pearson, are both about hard work, so those are two big inspirations,” Raymond said.

Raymond has had plenty of individual success in his four years at LPHS, but the greatest moment of his career was winning Sectionals with teammates Brayden Sobecki and Jay Pillai right behind him.

“To go one, two, and three at Sectionals was one of the coolest moments I’ve ever had. The adrenaline, beating Valpo, and to win a Sectional title for the first time in quite some time has definitely been my favorite cross country moment,” Raymond said.

On October 30th, Raymond set out to take on the toughest in the state at the IHSAA 2021 Cross Country State Tournament. He stuck to a strict regime and sported his famous eccentric pink socks leading up to the race.

“I always wear my pink socks. I’ve just been rocking those, and I’ve only lost one race, and it was the State meet, but I ran really well so in my head it was an A+ day. I couldn’t have run any better. I don’t have anything too big but my pink socks,” Raymond said

Crossing the finish line at 15:49, Raymond finished 6th in the State finishing his inspiring high school cross country career as a State medalist.

“It was awesome. I think the goal all year was to be in the top 10. I was ranked 12th and 18th in two different pools, so coming in, I was on the outside looking to get top 10. I  thought on my best possible day, I could get fifth. I thought I ran on a grading scale of 97, so I ran lights out. It was one of the most surreal individual feelings because last year I came in on the border to get top 25, and I got 34th, and in that moment right there, it clicked. I flipped a switch, and it helped me so much. Getting top 10 in the state and wearing LaPorte on my chest was a pretty surreal moment,” Raymond said.

Being a strong runner has been a highlight in Raymond’s life and it’s taken years of work and dedication.

“I get asked a lot of questions like ‘How’d you get so fast?’. But really it’s all about consistency. You don’t get good overnight, and I love it because you can be naturally good at it but you can’t naturally be a State champion. It’s all about consistency and putting in hard work. Doing the little things right.  For example, I am very picky in my sleep. I probably should be a little better on my diet, but I do take my supplements and vitamins just to stay healthy. I follow a plan, but I normally don’t think I’m one of the best runners in the state. It’s more of just a natural thing, which is nice,” Raymond said.

With being a senior and a seasoned runner, Raymond has taken on the leadership role and believes that being a leader on and off the course is a strong trait to have.

“I think that’s one of the biggest traits, not only in running, but in life. In the past, I don’t think I did that good as a leader, but this year, how I got our guys to run really well was awesome. To see how their hard work really paid off and to encourage and motivate them. I honestly think next year, they’ll have a better team.” Raymond said.

With being in the public eye for his achievements, Raymond has had his fair share of struggles. People have spoken negatively about the teen athlete and even doubted his skills as a runner.

“There are these message boards talking about me and not liking everything I do. I’ve learned how to feed off of that, and it really motivated me around Semi-State and State because they kept saying I wasn’t my normal self because I wasn’t really going all out until the end races. So to have that adversity and learning how to deal with it and have it fuel me was kind of like my big turning point because in my younger years. I would go on there and respond. Now I take that, don’t respond, and use it to show people why. I do think I have some ‘haters’ but the big thing is learning how to deal with that and taking it. I think it has really helped me become a better runner,” Raymond said.

Due to things such as pressure, personal struggles, and injuries, mental health in sports has been a hot topic for many years, but Raymond has learned how to stay positive and motivated through troubling times.

“Honestly it’s a struggle sometimes, but with my teammates and coaches, they make it so easy, going to practice everyday. I hadn’t gone to practice one day in a bad mood with my teammates. We just showed up and had such a good time and enjoyed ourselves. Once it got to running, we got serious, but after that, we joked around, and they just made it so easy to stay in a positive mood,” said Raymond.

Along with continuing to stay motivated through positivity, Raymond is also motivated by the drive to win.

“There is a quote from the movie, Moneyball where Brad Pitt says, ‘I hate losing more than I like to win and there’s a difference,’ and I think that losing drives me so much because I don’t want to show up to a starting line and not feel like I didn’t prepare better than everyone else and that I didn’t outwork everyone else. It’s like an obsession that I can’t even help. Winning is awesome, but I do not like to lose, and that’s what drives me and motivates me to go out in -10 degree days in the winter mid January when no one sees and in 100 degree heat and go out there and put in 14 miles a day and be the best possible version of myself,” Raymond said.

Raymond is continuing his career as a runner in college. His strength as a runner and academic was immediately seen by the top schools in the country. He has been contacted by Indiana University, Belmont, Grand Valley, Virginia Tech, Purdue, Syracuse, and Iowa State, but narrowed it down to the ones that stuck out the most to him.  

“I narrowed it down to Belmont, because it’s in Nashville, and I was very big on that, Grand Valley because they’re the best DII team in the country, and some people think maybe ‘DII?’, but I just love their coaching, and then IU because I mean it’s IU. It’s pretty cool. I’m excited. I mean things could still change, but for now I’m gonna be a Hoosier,” Raymond said.

Though Raymond is hanging up his orange and black for cream and crimson next year, he still has plenty of goals for his upcoming track season.

“I was fourth in the mile last year, second returner. The top returner actually won cross country State and I got 6th, so he’s a big threat. The plan is to win the mile and become a State champion. That’s going to be my full focus. June 2nd-3rd is the only thing I am going to care about once cross country ends, and I think I have the possibility to set three or four records. Last year I was close in the mile, and the two mile was still a bit ways off, but to set records and win a State title is the goal. You have to have big goals, set the bar high, and believe in them. I have it written down 2022 1600m State Champ,” said Raymond.

With his chapter at LaPorte coming to a close this spring, Raymond has left his mark at LPHS and within the community and continues to inspire those around him. His hardworking and kind nature truly highlights what it means to be a Slicer.

 

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