Singleton wants it all for Butler XC
BUTLER TWP — Simply put, CJ Singleton wants it all.
So far, so good, in that regard for Butler's junior cross country standout.
Through four races this season, Singleton has won them all. He's set two course records in the process.
During a tri-meet against Pine-Richland and Seneca Valley, Singleton completed Butler's course in 16 minutes, 19 seconds. Noah Beveridge — a Butler graduate now conmpeting at Syracuse — held the previous mark of 16:30.
“I idolized him growing up,” Singleton said of Beveridge. “When I found out I broke a record set by him, it meant the world to me.”
Last weekend, Singleton broke the course record at White Oak Park in McKeesport when he won the Red, White and Blue Invitational in 15:46.
The WPIAL Championships will be held on that same course Oct. 28-29.
“I don't want to jinx him, but CJ has been a dominant runner so far,” Butler cross country coach Rick Davanzati said.
He wants to keep it that way.
Singleton placed fifth in the WPIAL meet his sophomore year, 13th at the state meet. The Golden Tornado finished second as a team in the WPIAL, fourth at the PIAA Championships.
“Individually, I want to win the WPIAL and the state meet this year,” Singleton said. “I think our team can take a shot at that, too.
“Sage and Sky (Vavro) are a little banged up right now. Once they get healthy, we're deep enough to get it done. Our biggest competition should be North Allegheny and Seneca Valley. Their runners always work hard, so we have to match that.”
Singleton has been involved in cross country since fourth grade. His third-grade teacher at Butler Catholic — Mrs. Jordan — helped out with that school's team.
“She encouraged me to give it a try,” Singleton said. “My dad didn't want me to do it, though.”
His father, Chris Singleton, was a key runner on Butler High School's 1988 WPIAL championship cross country team. The Tornado program has not won a WPIAL title in the sport since.
“I was involved in soccer and basketball back then,” CJ Singleton said. “He didn't want me to burn myself out. But I really enjoyed it.”
Davanzati lists plenty of reasons why Singleton has developed into such a dominant runner.
“It's in the genes, for sure,” the coach said. “But a lot more goes into it than that. CJ is a very hard worker, dedicated to the sport. He's always been willing to put extra work in and he's a very consistent runner.
“He is extremely intelligent in his training. He knows when to back off and he knows when to push forward. He is a Division I level athlete, without question.”
While Singleton wants to run for a major college program, he may not be following Beveridge to Syracuse.
“I want to pave my own path,” he said.
During the summer, he ran three or four miles every morning in addition to working out with the team. Singleton credits Davanazati with his development as a runner as well.
“Coach sets up different workouts to help with our consistency on the course,” he said. “We may run eight miles a couple of days at practice.
“Other days, we'll do a 1k, or 300 meters and back, 400 meters and back .... He's building our leg strength toward the end of the year.”
An end Singleton hopes comes through as golden — as in gold medal.
He plays summer baseball and is a member of Butler's varsity basketball team. But cross country is Singleton's No. 1 sport.
“You have to work to get better,” he said. “In this sport, someone is always pushing you.”