BY DARREN REESE
SUN SPORTS EDITOR
GREENEVILLE - When Larry Blalock started teaching at Greeneville Middle School 11 years ago, after retiring from a 28-year education career in Mississippi, he was quickly asked to become involved with the middle school track program.
It turned out to be a smart move on the part of the local school administration.
After helping build successful track and cross country teams at the middle school, Blalock has since moved on to the high school.
In his two seasons as head coach of the GHS cross country teams, he has led the boys' team to consecutive Class A/AA state championships.
For his accomplishments this past season, Blalock has been recognized with a number of special awards recently.
During this offseason, Blalock has garnered Coach of the Year honors from the Blue Ridge Athletic Conference (BRAC), Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA), and the National Federation of State High School Associations.
"It's a great honor to be recognized with these," Blalock said Monday. "Of course, a coach is only as good as the athletes he works with, and we have a group of highly-motivated kids at Greeneville."
"They just need people with a little knowledge of the sport to give them the guidance they need, and that's what I've tried to do."
Blalock was born in Georgia, while his father was in the military, but considers himself a native of Mississippi.
He ran track and cross country at Mississippi College, followed by a career that consisted of 16 years as a teacher and coach and 12 years as an administrator.
Blalock retired from the Mississippi school system and moved to Greeneville in 2002.
At first, he didn't plan on coaching, but during his first year teaching at GMS, the track team there was in need of a coach.
Knowing Blalock's background, Dr. Linda Stroud, who was principal at Greeneville Middle at the time, asked him to fill the position.
"As my kids got older, I got into the high school programs as well," Blalock said.
"My son, George, started running and of course he needed transportation to practices and meets."
Blalock worked with the middle school and high school track teams for several years, and five years ago became assistant coach for the GHS cross country team under then-head coach Jeff Bloomer.
In 2010, the Greeneville girls' cross country team won a state championship.
Blalock took over for Bloomer after that season and the boys' squad has since went back-to-back at state.
Blalock anticipates having strong rosters on both the boys' and girls' teams again this year, as well.
"It's one of those things where we are having success, and everybody wants to be a part of something that is successful," Blalock said.
"In cross country, you just need to get 3-4 new kids out per year to have a successful program."