LOUISVILLE — Monarch's Charlie Perry started out the 2017 season hoping he could take the mantle from graduated teammate Isaac Green, who was a two-time Class 5A state champion.
Chasing a standard set by Green and the class just ahead of his, Perry ended up taking the baton farther and faster than even he expected this past fall.
By the end of his senior season, Perry had won every meet he entered. The Coyotes' pace-setter also won the 5A state championship, and in doing so broke Green's 5A classification state meet record by 20 seconds with a time of 15 minutes, 36.8 seconds on the course at Norris Penrose Event Center.
And after all of that, Perry has been named the 2017 BoCoPreps.com Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year.
"Honesty, we were just hoping to win it as a team," Perry said. "I was just thinking that if I just went out there and got one point, we'd have a good shot. We didn't quite get there but I felt like we all did everything we could."
Perry has proven time and time again this season that once he sets his mind to accomplishing something, it is unwise to bet against him.
At first and foremost, Perry set out to hold together a Monarch team that just graduated one of the most talented runners in the state's history and a total of four runners from its 2016 state meet lineup. He led the Coyotes, all of whom improved on their state placements from the year before, to a fourth-place finish in 5A. Fellow seniors Will Dixon and Isaac Russo jumped up 30 and 14 places, respectively, from last year.
As a secondary goal, Perry endeavored to win the 5A individual championship, which he did in spectacular fashion. Along the way, he signed to run at Stanford University and capped an undefeated in-state cross country season with a record-setting run at state.
"The record wasn't something I was thinking about," Perry said. "But once I finished and people told me that I had the record, it was definitely something I was really proud of."
Perry has made a habit recently of receiving unexpected good news after he crosses a finish line. At Nike Cross Regionals Southwest on Saturday, he collapsed over the finish line in at Grande Sports Academy in Casa Grande, Ariz., after completing the course in 15:01 and crossing sixth overall. With the top five individuals who did not qualify on a team earning a spot at Nike Cross Nationals, Perry thought he was the first runner to be cut by the qualifying mark. After an hour-long wait, and since fourth-place runner Brandon Garnica qualified with his Springville Cross team, Perry was alerted that he had qualified for nationals.
Had he been told of his future exploits, many of these things would have surprised Perry a year ago. But though he never told Perry, Monarch head track and cross country coach Kent Rieder told his assistant coaches in the preseason that the state meet was Perry's to lose and that Perry could definitely end up as Green's equal on the cross country course.
"You know, breaking Isaac's record down at the state meet was a huge thing for him," Rieder said. "And signing with Stanford, which is one of the top programs in the country, is really awesome too. He's an incredibly talented cross country runner but academics really are more important to him, which is unique. Unbeaten in the state was a great way to end his senior season and it will be cool to see what other heights he can reach."
Rieder won't have to wait long, as Perry's outstanding 2017 season will continue at Nike Cross Nationals on Dec. 2 at Glendoveer Golf Course in Portland, Ore.