A preseason vote of confidence from her teammates propelled Webb’s Anna Graves to a bounce-back junior season in 2022 and 5Star Preps girls cross-country Runner of the Year honors.
After bursting on the scene as a freshman in 2020 with a third-place finish in the state Division II-A state meet, Graves had a bit of a sophomore slump.
Nothing major, but it just wasn’t the type of season the Lady Spartans’ standout expected as she took ninth in the state meet in 2021.
“My sophomore year I had an overuse injury with my knee and mentally I kind of checked out when I had to take some time off,” explained Graves.
“When Anna came to us she was our No. 1 runner right off the bat,” said Webb coach Bobby Holcombe.
“She got third (in the state) and really did a good job being consistent her freshman year. Going into her sophomore year she had her struggles.”
Following the cross country season, Graves began to turn the corner during outdoor track.
“She had a pretty good sophomore year in track and that started the springboard in cross country,” said Holcombe.
During preseason camp, Graves got another boost when she was selected as team captain for 2022.
“In years past seniors are always our captains,” said Holcombe.
“But this year we didn’t have any seniors on the team. We went to a voting system and Anna was unanimously named team captain. That set the tone for her season,” continued Holcombe.
“She had to be the leader and on top of that she led by example as one of the hardest workers on the team.”
Graves said she was floored when she was elected team captain.
“It was definitely a bit of a reality check,” she said.
“Being voted team captain as a junior was a really big turnaround from being a sophomore and an underclassman. I was really grateful to my teammates. They made my job easy.”
Graves took her new leadership role and ran with it as the season wore on.
She was second to teammate Jazzlyn Garmer in the KIL meet.
Graves then led Webb to a second-place showing behind Harpeth Hall in the Division II-AA state meet.
She was top finisher for the Lady Spartans, claimed the No. 2 spot in 18:49.90 – finishing almost a minute faster than she did in the 2021 state meet.
“Anna last year was a totally different person than she was her sophomore season,” said Holcombe.
“She wasn’t our No. 1 runner every race, but she was consistently in our top two or three every race. She grew up in so many ways and she’ll continue to blossom.”
Graves she her stellar junior season gives her renewed confidence moving forward.
“I just want to do the best I can next year in my last high school season,” she said.
“I want to make a huge splash in the cross-country realm as a senior.”