This time last year, Drake Guess did not even expect to run cross country at the high school level.

Now the North Jackson senior is preparing to run collegiately.

Guess signed scholarship papers with Martin Methodist University of Pulaski, Tennessee during a signing ceremony on Wednesday at NJHS.

North Jackson announced last summer that it was beginning a cross country program, and development that thrilled Guess. But he said he never believed it would lead to the opportunity he now has at Martin Methodist.

“It’s a big surprise because I’d never run before [last season],” Guess said. “[Martin Methodist] sent me a text [in January]. I went and ran for them, toured the campus and everything, and they offered me.”

North Jackson head coach Johnny Holman was thrilled to see a runner sign to run collegiately.

“It’s not something you expect after the first year,” he said. “Drake vastly improved his times throughout the year. It was his first year to run, and he’s only going to better. He could be really, really good.”

Guess plans to major in biology. He wants to be a physician’s assistant after college.

Guess said he expects running at the collegiate level to “be very competitive. I know it’s going to be a lot of work. But I love [running]. It’s just crazy that my second year [to run] will be in college.”

Holman hopes Guess’ signing sends a message to others at North Jackson considering running cross country.

“I hope it shows them it’s another way to get to college,” he said. “Hopefully it will build interest and get more kids to run.”

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