CODY SYMONDS runs at Waterville Valley earlier in the fall sports season. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
November 24, 2013ALTON — It might be a challenge to find any high school athlete in the state of New Hampshire that had a more successful fall sports season than Prospect Mountain junior Cody Symonds.
On Oct. 5, Symonds took to the waters of Lake Winnisquam with partner Wyatt Stockman and coach Corey Roux and emerged with seven fish totaling more than 21 pounds, easily outdistancing the rest of the field to win the inaugural fall bass fishing state championship.
Just more than three weeks later, Symonds toed the starting line at Derryfield Park in Manchester for the Division III state championships and helped the Timber Wolves to the Division III title, the school's first cross country title ever.
While the two sports are definitely different, Symonds said he approached the state tournaments in a similar way.
"We decided last year that we'd train for it, we knew we had a real good group," Symonds said of the cross country squad. "And we knew we were one of the most skilled teams (at the bass fishing tourney)."
However, the fact remained that at both events, there was plenty of competition and it was up to the Timber Wolf junior and his teammates to make things happen.
"When we train together, you know the other people are depending on you," Symonds said of the cross country team. "Last year we had five and that hurt us, this year we had six, seven, eight people and that helped a lot.
"Me and Wyatt (Stockman), we knew we knew what we were doing and we knew Corey would put us on fish," he said of the fishing tournament. "But you never know, the other teams could've caught the same we did."
In cross country, Symonds is quick to point out that he has a regular group of competitors that he expects to be around him in most races. He can gauge his time and how his teammates are doing by who is around them on the course. He said that he would expect teammates Drew Tuttle and Mike Fife to be in front of him and teammates Dylan Tuttle, Shane McCartney and Wyatt Siegler behind him and a regular group of competitors in his time slot.
"I know who'd be around me," he said.
But fishing provides a whole other animal. Teams are on the lake in their boat not sitting side by side with the competition, gauging how the other team is doing.
"You're out there doing your thing," Symonds said.
While this was the first fall bass fishing championship in state history, there was a spring tournament last year, held as a trial run and Symonds participated in that with teammate Austin Perrin. He noted the experience came in handy when this year rolled around.
"Fishing by yourself, you can take as long as you want," he said. "In tournament's you fish at a higher pace."
He noted that it is still fun and a good time, but the competitor comes out when there is something on the line.
"Just like in any other sport, you want to be better than everyone else," he said.
Symonds noted that the cross country championship took a lot more work, evidenced by the fact that the Timber Wolf boys began plotting their trip to the top of the podium after last year's state championship meet.
"We had been training toward that the entire year," Symonds said.
The Timber Wolf cross country team worked together as a group in the offseason, training and putting in the time toward reaching their ultimate goal. Symonds notes he ran upwards of 60 miles a week in the offseason, going over 70 miles a few times.
"It's a lot, but you get used to it," he said. "People call me crazy for as much as I run, but they don't understand what it's like to want to run fast. It takes a lot of work.
"And bass fishing, the only people who get it are the people who do it," he said with a laugh. "They think of fishing as just having fun, but you go to these tourneys and you see how serious it is. It's a different world."
Speaking during the middle of the school day, Symonds noted he had already ran close to five miles in the morning and was planning another 11 with his teammates later in the afternoon as they all prepare for the indoor and outdoor track season, Symonds noted he hopes to take running to the next level after his graduation in 2015.
While he is a state champion in cross country, his best event comes in track. He hopes to get to nationals in the 800 meters his senior year.
"I've seen how much better I got in a year," he said. "The amount of work I know I'll put in, you never know what can happen."
Symonds has been in touch with a number of schools as he prepares to look toward the future. UNH has been one place he's watched and with a Division I track team and a major that he wants to pursue (conservation biology), he said the Durham campus offers a great option, but there is still time to make decisions like that.
Symonds also offered up a sincere thanks to cross country coach John Tuttle and Roux, the team's fishing coach who also is the PMHS Athletic Director.
"I don't think I could've asked for anything more," Symonds said.
He went on to praise Tuttle's ability to help him take his running to the next level.
"He takes someone like me, sees how much I like running and knows what you need to do to get to the next level," Symonds said.
Between now and next fall, Symonds will spend time doing some Bassmasters fishing tournaments and will continue to run every day and will certainly be looking to defend his two championships next year.
But for the time being, he can look up at the wall in the gym and see a pair of banners that he helped put there.
And that's a pretty good feeling.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or email@example.com.