By Abigale Crowe

Focus and determination glow in his eyes. It is what sets him apart. The power of his kicks propels him forward at lightning speed. He glides through the finish line, clenching first place. 

Aidan Palmer is special, not just because of his star potential, but because of his passion for running that shines through, inspiring others. 

Franklin Cross Country head coach Jacob Michaels said, “Despite the fact that he went to Ireland with his family for 15 days, I think he missed one day of running. He ran 75 miles one week in Ireland on his own through the Irish countryside.” 

This kind of work ethic and commitment is champion-worthy. Every day he makes the choice to strive.

His journey to success in cross country running was not an easy one. It started with the choice between playing soccer and running cross country. 

Palmer says, “My freshman year, when I first came out for track, I was just amazed by the level of competition and some of the athletes at Franklin, specifically Henry Mong. 

“They really inspired me to want to train over the summer, and once I had done that, I had gotten so well acquainted with the team. I never really wanted to go back to soccer. I wanted to run cross country.” 

After altitude camp in Sisters, Oregon with the cross country team, Palmer found where he belonged. 

Coach Michaels said, “He gave up a sport that he wasn’t as good at for a sport that he had the potential to be great in.” 

Drawn to cross country because he loves the satisfaction that comes after embracing the pain and intensity of running, Palmer appreciates the process, watching the hours of work you put in develop into something beautiful.

He said, “We spend every day after school with each other now, plan lots of fun things and just hang out with each other. That helps a lot in a race when you’re going to have to dig deep and you know you are doing it for six other guys who are on the starting line with you. The team culture this year has been a big part of our success.” 

Not only has Palmer achieved high personal success, but, through his leadership, he has brought the team along with him. 

Coach Michaels observed, “Aidan is very much the senior leader. Sure, he leads by example, but he has been really good at, keeping the team loose during all of the drudgery and training, and he has said extremely inspiring words…I’ve heard that Aidan has just been amazingly good at talking to his team before races.” 

Palmer’s teammate, Charlie Robertson shared this about their connection: “He really inspired me, especially my sophomore year; he helped me train and realize what it takes to get to the next level.”

At Nike Cross Nationals, his character and story showed, earning him the title of 52nd in the nation. 

The rain was pouring, Palmer was covered in mud, his yellow spiked hair was drenched and his white shirt was clinging to his skin. The crowd roared as the runners passed in a blur. 

Palmer’s teammates leaned over the edge of the course screaming, “Go Aidan!” at the top of their lungs. 

Next year, Palmer’s journey in cross country continues at Boise State University. He will attend on a full ride athletic scholarship and will be running alongside his idol, Henry Mong, the person who inspired Palmer to run cross country three years ago. 

Although Palmer’s time at Franklin High School is ending, an exciting new chapter is beginning!

Photo by Peter Chin