Madison County senior Drew Kelliher runs cross-country for the Mountaineers, is an all-region swimmer, and is the drum major in the school’s band. On top of all that, Kelliher is also at the top of his class.
"He's always been a born leader. I've noticed that since the first day I met him," Madison County swim coach Helen Dixon says of her senior captain.
When the Mountaineer swim team was started just two years ago, Kelliher quickly became one of the team's leaders. Because he was an experienced competitive swimmer, he helped out the more inexperienced team members.
"With himself and the girls co-captain, they really know how to, one, formulate a team," said Dixon. "They know what the team needs. They're able to get in the pool, they're able to show the swimmers what each stroke is supposed to be."
But Kelliher admits even he didn't know what to expect when it came to swimming in the Bull Run.
"I just came in from day one and said, 'I want to work my hardest and place top-8 at districts to make it to regionals,"' he said.
At his first Bull Run meet, Kelliher did much better than eighth. He won the 200 free. In his senior year at regionals, he was second in the 100 fly and third in the 200 free, and went on to states in both races.
Kelliher finished his high school athletic career on top, and he hopes to do the same academically. In his final semester, he ranks 1st in his class.
“I'm definitely going to put in the work and finish strong because I do want to be first in my class, and that's not something that I'm going to give up lightly."
While he has seen his dedication pay off in the classroom, he says one of his more rewarding projects came as part of an assignment with the Blue Ridge Virtual Governor's School, a program for academically motivated high school students.
"I actually researched how exercise helps individuals with cystic fibrosis manage their symptoms, and I did an internship with a personal trainer to learn more about the exercise portion of that."
Kelliher recently organized a 5K race on the Madison cross-country course to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Though he's worked with personal trainers as part of his Blue Ridge Virtual Governor's School senior internship, he's leaning toward another field for his college major. Kelliher wants to study materials engineering, and is deciding between attending North Carolina State and Virginia Tech. He says math is one of his favorite subjects, and he loves going to class every day.
"There's so many different applications that you know, just blow your mind when you figure it out. Sitting there in ninth grade, I'm like, 'where are we going with this?' And then it all makes sense when you hit calculus in twelfth grade."