Tom Graham lit up the room when he walked into the first Newburyport indoor track meeting this season.
With his attendance, Graham effectively committed to changing winter sports — from basketball to indoor track — for his junior season. It came as welcome news to the Newburyport coaches and athletes. After all, Graham set the school record in the 400 meters (50.01) last outdoor season.
“He showed up, and we all had smiles on our faces,” Newburyport coach Tim Foley said. “We can’t wait to see how he’ll do in the championship season.”
Graham has already made a lasting impression through the first nine dual meets, all of which have resulted in Newburyport victories.
He set a school indoor record in the 600 (1:24.97), smashing the previous record set in 2011 by John Stansel, who is now running at Bates College.
“Growing up, I always noticed I was a little quicker than everybody else,” Graham said. “Orginally, I figured track would be good training for other sports. Once I found that I was pretty gifted, I was more interested and serious.”
Graham is training with the distance runners this winter under coach Don Hennigar in hopes of expanding his repertoire.
Foley says that Graham’s training has made him more versatile and valuable to the three-time defending Division 4 state champions.
“He has God’s gifts,” Foley said.
“He’s working with Donny’s group, and now he can run anything from the 100 to the mile. He can also clear 5-10 in the high jump. We use him wherever we need him.”
Graham’s decision to switch winter sports was made after last outdoor season when he started receiving recruitment letters from track coaches around the country.
He has yet to narrow his college search, but the Cape Ann League All-Star soccer player is now thinking he’ll compete in college in track and field — originally the sport he used to get in shape for soccer and basketball.
“I definitely love the racing,” Graham said.
“There’s a lot more action than you think. I had already become friendly with the team from outdoor running, so I’m having a lot of fun this season.”