Student Spotlight: Girty ready to take his athletic skills to next level

Bryce Girty shows his finishing place after crossing the finish at the Oklahoma State Cross Country Meet in Chickasha. With Girty is his coach Larry Shade, who has been his coach since Girty was a second-grader. 

TAHLEQUAH – Bryce Girty, an eighth grader at the Cherokee Immersion School, said he got into cross-country naturally since he “always kind of ran around the house all the time.”

As he got older, he thought he would give organized cross-country competitions a go, and he discovered that he enjoyed the training and workouts.

“But I didn’t know I could do as well as I did,” he said.

Last fall, Girty had a stellar cross-country season. He won almost all meets he entered, and at the state competition at Chickasha he finished fourth in a field of 159 runners. For the second consecutive year, he won his grade level in the Cherokee County Cross Country Meet.

“I’m hoping I can get an athletic scholarship out of cross country,” Girty said. “I really like the challenge of it. It’s a challenge to compete against all the other runners.”

Since he was in second grade Girty has been under the coaching of Larry Shade who has guided Girty in cross-country and other sports, including basketball and baseball.

“As his coach, I couldn’t ask for more dedication and effort be put forth, not just for himself but also for his teammates,” Shade said. “He’s a great baseball player, but his best sport probably is running. He’s gotten a lot of medals and won a lot of meets through the years. Just give him a few seconds and he’s gone.”

Shade said Girty also assumes leadership roles on his teams.

“It’s through the exercises, warmups and calisthenics that we do,” Shade said. “I’ll tell Bryce to go get the team started, and he’ll line them up and go through the cadence and each exercise. He has really been good at that. I miss him any day that he isn’t here. When it comes to work ethic, well he’s self-motivated. He has a deep desire to be successful.”

Though Girty enjoys the challenge of competition, he also doesn’t stress about it too much. He stretches in preparation and simply runs as best he can.

“I was a little nervous, but I really thought I might be able to get top five,” he said. “I was able to do that.”

The interruption caused by COVID perhaps was more stressful for Girty. Many of his teammates left to compete at other schools and did not return.

“I couldn’t go out and practice with the team and Coach Shade,” he said. “It slowed me down a little bit. I fell out of shape slightly, but I was able to regain myself pretty fast.”

Along with athletic competition, Girty is enjoying his last semester of Cherokee language immersion.

“It is really a lot of fun learning the language,” he said. “It’s what I came here to do.”

Next year, he will be a freshman at Sequoyah High School.

“I know they’re looking forward to having him in the lineups at Sequoyah,” Shade said.

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