Carly Wilkes’ favorite color is purple, and she’ll be wearing a lot of it in the coming years as she’s accepted a full athletic scholarship to run track and cross country for Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina.
While purple is Carly’s favorite color, and the track at Furman is purple, that’s not why she decided to pick the Paladins over schools like Virginia Tech, Virginia, Wake Forest, Duke, Syracuse and other who desired her talents. Furman is one of the top distance running schools in the nation.
“It’s one of the top 10 distance running schools in the nation,” said Wilkes. “They have a big travel budget and go to big meets. They’ve had kids in the Olympics.”
Wilkes noted that Furman has already signed the top runners from New Jersey and Pennsylvania to go with a strong group that is already on campus.
“I wasn’t expecting to commit this early, but it’s the right choice for me,” she said. “Glenvar isn’t a big school and Furman isn’t super big, so it shouldn’t be much of an adjustment. And the campus is beautiful.”
A rising senior at Glenvar, Wilkes has an amazing resume. In her sophomore year she won the indoor 1,600 and 3,200 state Class 2 titles and was on the winning 4×800 relay team. The outdoor meet was cancelled that year due to the coronavirus.
This past school year Carly won the state cross country championship, the indoor 1,600 and 1,000, the outdoor 1,600 and 800 and was on winning 4×400 relay teams in both the indoor and outdoor meets. Glenvar won the team state championship in both.
That doesn’t even count state championships she won in swimming in relays and as a member of two state championship Glenvar swim teams. She’ll only be swimming for fun at Furman, but she’ll stay plenty busy running on the indoor, outdoor and cross country teams.
The Furman distance teams are coached by Robert Gray and his wife, Rita. Robert is a two-time Olympian with a long list of coaching honors and Rita has coached 40 NCAA All-Americans. The Paladins have four coaches dedicated to distance running, and that was another thing that impressed Carly.
“The coaches are really nice,” said Wilkes. “I had a super experience when I visited and we’re going for our official campus tour at the end of the month. I just knew this was the right place for me.”