It only takes a quick glance during warm-ups to see what makes Ryan junior Terell Cross a little different from his track and field peers.
Cross won’t be wearing the traditional warm-up sweats. Instead, he can most likely be found in slender jeans and a button-down shirt, a routine that stems from his freshmen year he still follows.
“It started when it was cold,” Cross said. “My little sweats weren’t doing anything, so I just kept my jeans on.”
On and off the track, Cross’s uniqueness has enabled him to be impressive for the Raiders since he was a freshman. Now as a junior, Cross will be one of Ryan’s most valuable runners at the District 5-5A and District 6-5A area track and field meet at Coppell today and Friday.
The top four finishers in each event advance to the Class 5A Region I meet next week at Texas Tech.
As Ryan enters the postseason, Cross continues to distinguish himself from his competition in multiple ways. Last week at the 5-5A meet, he set the school record in the 400 meters previously held by former Ryan standout Daniel Martin, who now runs at Texas A&M. Cross set the record with a time of 48.36 seconds.
“He’s really a quarter-miler, but he can do it all, and he’s running about as good as I’ve seen him ever run at this point,” Ryan head coach Janson Head said. “He’s just running really, really strong right now.”
Cross will also run on Ryan’s 400 and 1,600 relays at the area meet.
Last week, Cross stepped away from Ryan’s 800 relay, ran the 400 and broke Martin’s record. It’s one of many accolades Cross has accumulated in three years.
He was also on the 1,600 relay that won the silver medal at the Class 4A state meet in 2011, the same relay that currently holds the school record. For most of the year, Cross has been the opening leg of Ryan’s 800 relay team that has the nation’s 10th-fastest time, according to DyeStat.
Head said because of the proximity between the 400 run and the 800 relay, he will have to decide if the 800 relay can be as fast without Cross.
But the way Cross is running at this point in the year, it’d be hard to leave him off of Ryan’s most prolific relay.
“He’s been huge,” said Paul Hunter, another member of Ryan’s 800 relay team, “It makes it easier for me, and it eventually makes it easier for Cam [Cameron Williams] and Mo [Maurice Gordon].
Over the years, Cross has been able to figure things out on his own, whether it’s been running or other things going on.
He’s overcome his 5-foot-5 stature by outworking his much taller competition to take the top 400 time into the area meet. He took a job as an assistant manager at McDonald’s to help tackle a couple of bills, and while he hasn’t run the 400 for long, it didn’t take him long to make up ground on the rest of his competition.
“I usually just have to lead and be confident in what I’m doing,” Cross said. “I usually have to learn things on my own, so that’s where that comes from most of the time. Even when I first started the 400 way back, I kind of had to learn how to run it myself.”
While the team was warming up this week on an unusually frigid Monday afternoon, one of Cross’ female teammates was wearing his letter jacket that had “President” stitched across the back. Cross is the president of Ryan’s I-Tech Club and has shown a knack for design.
He finished first in residential design and commercial design at the regional Technology Student Association competition. He also took home first in residential design at the state competition.
“He’s very gifted, as far as architecture goes,” said Jeff Koenig, an architecture teacher at Denton ISD’s Advanced Technology Complex. “A lot of students aren’t able to see a set of plans and how it goes together in 3D and all these things. But he just gets it. He’s very talented. He’s very design-oriented.”
On the track, Cross has figured things out as well. While Head said Cross wasn’t in his best form earlier in the season, he knows what to expect when Cross steps up to the starting blocks today.
“He wasn’t where I thought he should have been, but now as the meets get important, he’s run really, really well,” Head said. “He’s peaked at the right time. That’s what you want to do. That’s what you hope for.”
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @Ben_Baby.
Ryan’s qualifiers for the District 5-5A and District 6-5A area meet:
Long jump — Trent Willis
Triple jump — Trent Willis, Preston Compton, Xavier Gray
Pole vault — Ryan Wommack
Shot put — Ken McLaurin, Reese Strait
Discus — Reese Strait
100 — Maurice Gordon
200 — Maurice Gordon
400 — Terell Cross
300 hurdles — Randalle Williams
400 relay — Terell Cross, Jordan Murray, Paul Hunter, Cameron Williams
800 relay — Jordan Murray, Paul Hunter, Maurice Gordon, Cameron Williams
1,600 relay — Jordan Murray, AJ George, Paul Hunter, Terell Cross
Shot put — Kenya Dumas
200 — LaDaja Sutton