It’d be tempting to make the lasting image of West Forsyth senior John Green’s cross country season be the media frenzy that followed his disqualification at the GHSA Cross Country Class AAAAAA Championships this past November. Green finished third but was disqualified for wearing a headband with a Bible verse.
People got very interested in that Bible verse; very interested, in fact. Scores of media outlets scrambled to cover the controversy, from Runner’s World magazine to The Daily Mail, a British tabloid newspaper.
“I was very surprised how that happened,” Green said.
Green’s disqualification felt disappointing and cruel, but every article left out Green’s impressively dominant season leading up to the state championship meet. Green won six races, including the Region 6-AAAAAA meet, the first ever by a Wolverines runner. He finished behind just four runners all season. No one in Forsyth County defeated him head-to-head.
Indeed, there was more to the 2015-16 Forsyth County News’ Boys Runner of the Year’s season than just 36-hours’ worth of hashtags (#FreeTheFro).
Question: Looking back on your senior season, how would you describe it?
Green: “It was almost everything I hoped for. Going into the season, the goal was to win a state championship. That was what my coaches and I talked about since the day after the state championship last season. So that was the goal going in.
“I won a lot of races. There was a point where I’d won four in a row. Won region title, which was cool. Gave it a good effort at state finishing third. A little disappointed I didn’t win, but I was proud of how I did.”
Q: In the aftermath of being disqualified at state, were you surprised by the big reaction it got?
Green: “Yeah, I was very surprised how that happened. But this is kind of a cool story. One of our family friends told us after it first happened, like 15 minute after, that, alright, it sounds bad now, but this is a good thing, God’s going to be glorified through this.
“My and parents and I looked at him and were like, Are you crazy? This is terrible. Nothing good’s going to come out of this?
“Then, looking back on it after that week or whatever it was – it felt like a week – just to see the Bible verse on Facebook and Twitter and just everywhere you could look, reflecting on that – that guy was right. We kind of looked at him like he was crazy when he said it, but that was what I took away from it, how God worked it out. He took a situation that I thought was terrible and made it really good.”
Q: So you’re deciding on which college to sign with and run. What are your biggest deciding factors in making the decision?
Green: “Team environment is a big deciding factor for me. A couple of years ago, I was on a team that was just a bunch of my best friend I had met in school. It was the most fun I’ve had. Had fun with the young guys this season, but it was a different dynamic. So I’m looking forward to getting on a team like that again.”
Q: Have you thought about what you want to accomplish in your running career in college?
Green: “Both of the schools I’m looking at have very similar goals of qualifying for Nationals. Either school I pick, I want to be a part of that. That would be my No. 1 goal.”