SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Myles Plummer flashed a huge smile when he was done with his workout on the sun-splashed track at Union Catholic this past Monday morning.
It was the first official summer practice for the Union Catholic cross-country team, and the rising junior distance running star was ecstatic to be back with his teammates doing what he loves.
"It felt amazing,'' Plummer said of running with his fellow Vikings. "It gave me a feeling of excitement and hope for this upcoming season. It was great to see both my teammates and coaches again. It's great to be back at it.''
Plummer had the greatest indoor season of his career last winter.
At the State Meet of Champions, Plummer ran on UC's winning 4x400-meter relay that finished first in 3:18.78, the fastest time run in the state for the season, and ran a personal best 4:18.99 to place second in the 1,600. He also won the 800 at the Union County Championships, and ran a personal best 1:57.62 in the 800.
Based on his great indoor campaign, Plummer had high hopes for a huge outdoor season. But unfortunately, the season was canceled by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association due to pandemic caused by COVID-19.
Plummer said it was difficult to miss the spring season.
"At first it was very hard, especially coming off of a huge performance at MOC's,'' said Plummer, who lives in Franklin. "Spring is definitely my favorite season, and I was ready to drop some really big times. I definitely missed the team environment. Our team had a really good connection, and we were all focused on both team and individual goals, which we missed out on. Not to mention we missed out on some really huge opportunities to showcase our talents on a larger scale, like New Balance Nationals, the Arcadia Invitational, and the Penn Relays.''
Plummer said the lost outdoor season has made him hungrier than ever to work hard and have the best cross-country season of his life.
"Fitness level wise, I feel both fit and in shape with a lot more work left in the tank,'' said Plummer, who ran between 40-45 miles per week this summer. "I definitely feel way more fit compared to this time last year. With the loss of the spring season, I trained straight through, and incorporated more strength and conditioning into my day to day. I have been training to build mileage in many ways while trying to preserve my body and prevent injury in the hopes for a long three seasons ahead of me.''
What are Plummer's biggest goals for this cross-country season.
"My main goal this season is to break 16:00 early on and PR (run a personal record) from there,'' said Plummer, who ran 16:51 at Holmdel Park and a PR of 16:09 at Greystone Park last year. "My biggest goal when it comes to times this year would be to run 16:10 at Holmdel Park, and sub 16 at Warinanco Park and Greystone. Also, winning a county XC title is one of my top goals this season, and to place well at the Sectionals.''
Plummer, who has placed third the past two years at the Union County Cross-Country Championships, is confident that he can win that title for the first time this fall.
"After coming in third last year behind two very good competitors, I feel like I am ready to take on the title,'' said Plummer. "As a junior, this is a very important year for me, and a county title in XC would be a great way to kick off a season that I have such high hopes for.''
Plummer's biggest strength as a runner is his range.
"My greatest strength is my versatility,'' said Plummer. "I am able to range from the 400- 5K, which affords me the opportunity to support my team in multiple events.''
Union Catholic head boys cross-country coach Mike McCabe praised Plummer's talent and commitment to the sport.
"Myles possesses all the tools to be an elite level runner,'' said McCabe. "He has raw talent, a strong work ethic, and the ability to race at a high level. I look forward to coaching him for the next two years.''
Plummer was born with running in his blood. His mother, Megan, won the N.J. State Group 3 title in the 400 hurdles and was second at the Meet of Champions in the 400 hurdles at Franklin High School in 1994, and ran on the winning 4x400 relay at the outdoor Meet of Champions in 1992.
Plummer has followed his mother's footsteps ever since he started running at the age of six.
"I was very active at that age, so my parents signed me up for every sport they could think of,'' said Plummer. "My town had a track club that had been around for a long time, so they signed me up and here we are. I began running with Prime Time TFC. I started off running the 100-meter dash, but my club coach randomly put me in the 800 and told me I had potential in that event. Since then, I have always run the 1500/1600 and the 800.''
Plummer is also a star in the classroom and the community. He's an Honor Roll student and a Student Ambassador
Plummer loves being a student at UC, and said he always knew UC was the perfect fit for him.
"UC is a diverse community and a close-knit family environment which makes everyone feel welcome,'' said Plummer. "I knew that UC was going to afford me the opportunity to excel both in the classroom, school community, and on the track. UC is committed to educating a well-rounded student with a balanced approach.''
Plummer has some advice for young students out there who are considering becoming a student at UC?
"Come to Freshman for the Day/Open House, and you will not regret it,'' said Plummer. "By the time you leave, you will feel like you have found a new home. The instant feeling of welcome and comfort is evident. In addition, UC is dedicated to supporting students' talents/interests at a high level beyond just the classroom.''