By Mike Blackerby
Niki Narayani said the concept of the loneliness of the long-distance runner couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, Webb’s standout senior considers cross country the ultimate team sport.
“Of all my time at Webb, starting in the sixth grade and going to my senior year, team camaraderie was so amazing and the coaches were so supportive,” said Narayani, the 5Star Preps girls cross country runner of the year.
“Everybody gets along so well. It’s so great to have a whole team of girls there celebrating together.”
There was certainly much to celebrate during Narayani’s high school career.
She parlayed a team-first mentality and an upbeat attitude into one of the most-decorated careers ever among high school runners in the state.
Starting with her eighth-grade year, Narayani has been a part of five consecutive state cross country championships by the Lady Spartans.
Webb ran its overall winning state streak to seven years this season, scoring 29 points to take the Division II Small Class team title by a whopping 64 points over second-place St. George’s.
Narayani also put an exclamation point on her career in November, capturing her first individual state championship at Percy Warner Park in Nashville.
After finishing second individually at state the last four years, Narayani ran the 5K course in 18:20.43 to win by 36 seconds over runner-up Allison Newman of St. George’s.
Webb coach Bobby Holcombe said Narayani is the ultimate team player.
“Every single year she has thought about the team first – and then thought about her individual goals,” said Holcombe.
“She has always encouraged the other girls and her work ethic all five years has been remarkable. See does everything you could possibly ask of her. Her work ethic is pretty much remarkable, to say the least.”
Narayani’s hard work paid off with her recent commitment and subsequent signing to run cross country and track at Vanderbilt.
Duke and Yale also tendered offers to Narayani, an excellent student who will study pre-med at Vanderbilt.
Holcombe said all of the attributes that made Narayani a great high school runner will translate well to the next level.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if she made their top seven as a freshman,” he offered.
“Whether it’s in cross country or in the classroom, she gives 100 percent in everything she does. She has a great ceiling.”