In her first high school cross country meet, Skylar English finished second overall. Soon, English was on a path that would land her on the Georgia cross country team.
English, a native of Dacula, Georgia, started running cross country as a junior in high school, making 2018 only her third year as a runner.
“I played soccer every year of high school, but I started cross country my junior year, so it’s still relatively new,” English said. “I always knew I was kind of decent at it so I just gave it a try just to try something new and I ended up surprising myself. I didn’t think I would be able to run at that level.”
English's quick success in the sport has surprised even her. Although she didn't being racing until her junior year of high school, English is one of Georgia's top runners heading into the NCAA regionals in Tallahassee, Florida, Friday.
"I surprised myself, really. I didn’t know where I would be because I knew my place on the team..."
- Skylar English, Georgia cross country runner
“I didn’t know where things would take me so I was just kind of riding along to see how it goes and then senior year is when I started to consider it more,” English said. “Over the summer, Coach [Patrick] Cuniff reached out to me and asked me if I was interested, and I eventually scheduled a visit and that’s where it became real.”
English finished her high school career with many honors including 2017 Gwinnett County Co-Runner of the Year and Gwinnett All-County Team for 2016 and 2017. Georgia head cross country coach, Patrick Cuniff, could see the potential English had coming out of high school, giving him hopes that she would make her mark.
“We saw some really good signs out of her senior cross country season and combined with just a good general athleticism knowing that she was a soccer player gave us a lot of hope that she could do well,” Cuniff said.
English finished in the top five of Georgia finishers in the first four meets of the season. At the SEC championship meet on Oct. 26, she finished sixth.
“I’m still taking it. I surprised myself really,” English said. “I didn’t know where I would be because I knew my place on the team and there are some really, really fast people here so I guess I wasn’t as confident, but I’m super excited. It’s, like, surreal.”
“So far she’s been a big help,” said Cuniff. “I would say that she is a little bit ahead of schedule and we’d been pleasantly surprised.”
With the success English has found in her first three meets as a Georgia runner, she is grateful for particular runners who have inspired her to be the best she can be.
“Our fifth years Grace Tavani and Hailey Branch, are super motivational and sweet and they just tell us everything about their experiences and how they started as freshmen and how if you just keep working hard you can definitely surprise yourself even when it gets hard,” English said. “They’re so uplifting and they are always making everyone feel good and giving great advice. I really appreciate them and I look up to them.”
Only a few months into her college career, English is helping her team and getting better at her craft as she is making her mark on Georgia cross country.
“There’s no better feeling than getting a new [personal record] or just feeling strong after doing something you thought was super hard and then doing it again after you get into better shape and thinking it wasn’t that bad,” English said. “It’s just very satisfying.”