Exchange student lifts Lady Chiefs to trip to state meet

North Myrtle Beach cross country coach Earl Main always keeps his eyes and ears open for potential recruits. He never imagined his radar would  reach thousands of miles, or pay off so handsomely as it did this season.

While working at a summer track and field clinic at the North Myrtle Beach Recreation Center, Main encountered a young athlete by the name of Annika Crosswhite, who casually mentioned that her family would be hosting an exchange student from Germany in the upcoming school year.

On a hunch, Main told Annika to ask if the visitor was interested in distance running. To his surprise, word came back that she was not only interested, but could run a 10k in 48 minutes – a time that translated to one of the top runners in the state at the official cross-country distance of 3.1 miles, or 5k.

So when Alexandra Tanck’s flight from Europe to the United States touched down, she literally hit the ground running for the Lady Chiefs. With a personal-best time of 21:49, she finished eighth in the Horry County Championships, ninth in the Region 3A meet and has helped her team advance to the State Championships on Saturday at the Sandhills Research Center in Columbia

“Now I am here in North Myrtle Beach and I am totally enjoying my time,” said Tanck, a 16-year-old junior at NMBHS.  “I live with an amazing host family (the Crosswhites) and just have an everyday life like a typical American teenager.”

But as it has turned out, Tanck has been far from typical. In addition for being known for her traditional post-race milkshake that the Crosswhites keep for her at the finish line, she has meant much more to her team than just another top time.

“Alex is more than just an exceptional runner; she is a coach’s dream,” Main said. “Alex works hard, is admired by her peer runners and never complains about the workouts and is always supporting and cheering her teammates on. ”

Joining the team also has been a big help for Tanck in making the tough transition to another country and school. She has made many friends on the team, which has assisted in her adjustment and eased the pain of homesickness she feels for her native Hamburg and her parents and sister who still live there.

“Actually school is a lot better here than in Germany,” said Tanck, noting that schools in Germany do not offer sports programs.  “It’s a lot different and a lot easier here and that makes it exciting for me.

“Of course, it is very hard not to see my family and friends from Germany for 10 months.  That’s probably the worst part when you do an exchange, but my host family here is already my second family and they always support me.”

Tanck has had such a positive impact on the team that in addition to the varsity letter she will earn at the fall sports banquet, she also will be recipient of the Coach’s Award, given each year to the runner who comes to every practice, gives 100 percent and supports her teammates. She also plans to compete for the track team in the spring.

And it all happened because of a distance-running coach whose ear for talent paid off from a greater distance than he ever imagined.

Photo courtesy of Digital Magic

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2 responses to “Exchange student lifts Lady Chiefs to trip to state meet”

  1. B. C. S. says:

    What a great role model this young lady is——–dedicated, disciplined, AND talented! A real team player, in the best sense of the word. She will go home with memories to last a lifetime, and will leave behind a wonderful legacy of selfless effort on behalf of “her” school!

  2. Congratulations and thanks Alex! You have been such a great part of the team this Cross Country season. I know that both Drake and I and all of the girls on the team will really miss you next year, but at least we will have Track Season together before you head back to Germany! Now let’s go get them at tomorrows State Championship Meet! Great job! – Benji (:

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