Brevard runner Knox Witherspoon was in a dead heat Friday afternoon at North Carolina A&T during the 2A 1600-meter run at the NCHSAA state track and field championships.
Then, if that race went like so many others in the senior standout’s career, heavy metal songs like Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” or Slipknot’s “Spit It Out” played louder in his head, helping him pull away from Bandys’ Grant Parham to grab the title with a time of 4:28.
His head coach, Benjamin Morgan, said Witherspoon’s music choice aligns perfectly with his running style.
“If you watch him race, he’s an intense racer,” he said. “He’s an aggressive racer. He loves to win. He loves competing, not afraid of anything.”
Witherspoon has a strong passion for music, so much so that he is a singer and guitarist in a band called Testimony with his cross country teammate Townsend Dierauf and another friend at school.
“I thought it was super dope that some sounds could make you feel a certain way,” Witherspoon said. “Hype you up or depending on the genre, it can totally change your mood.”
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He said they have written a couple of songs but need to record them. Testimony, which plays rock and alternate rock, plans to record them after school gets out for the summer. They then hope to release them on any major platform that will take them.
Witherspoon said he didn’t start playing electric guitar until two years ago during the COVID-19 pandemic, when he was given a flying V electric guitar from his older cousin.
Just as he has excelled as a runner between seventh grade and high school, he mastered playing the guitar. Witherspoon took to YouTube and learned songs like Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” and Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” before acing more difficult ones like Metallica’s “Seek and Destroy.”
He then watched live performances from his favorite bands and singers like Metallica, Slipknot, Ice Cube and Daft Punk.
But Morgan also said Witherspoon is as excellent a teammate as he is a bandmate.
His coach recalled when Witherspoon didn’t bask in the glory immediately after winning the 2A cross country title back in November.
Instead, he high-fived Morgan, walked back to the finish line to cheer on the rest of his team and hugged each one of them as they arrived at the finish. His screaming and hollering helped the rest of the Brevard team rack up enough points to take home the program’s first team state title
Morgan added that there will be many other good runners to come out of Brevard High School in the future, but none of them will be like Witherspoon.
“The impact that Knox is gonna make will be something that I’ve never seen,” he said. “The way he was able to prioritize his teammates, prioritize winning and still do it in a way that made everybody a better person was truly incredible.”
Witherspoon will continue the family history of running cross country and track in college. His mother, Jackie, and sister, Eliza, ran at the University of Alabama, but this time Witherspoon will blaze his own trail closer to home at North Carolina A&T.
This article originally appeared on Hendersonville Times-News: Brevard’s Knox Witherspoon wins state titles, and plays a mean guitar