The best long-distance runner in the region is a musician, gardener and scout

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Antonio Camacho-Bucks wants you to know he has a life outside of racing. The centenarian eldest hopes to become an Eagle Scout before his 18th birthday in January. Last summer, he spent 10 days living on a sailboat alongside other Scouts, and recently rebuilt an entire campsite for the Cubs when a storm flooded their tents.

He spends a lot of time camping with others on Scout Troop 944, but he admits his attention is sometimes divided. At 6 a.m. he may have to go to cross-country training.

“Everything I do is pretty much running oriented. It’s pretty much every day of my life,” Camacho-Bucks said. something my mom really encourages.

Now in his senior season, the reigning All-Met men’s cross-country athlete of the year has a state title, college coaches vie for his talent and a compelling claim as the top high school distance runner. of the region. On Saturday, athletes from more than 100 mid-Atlantic schools will face the Camacho-Bucks in the Oatlands Invitational. Many already know his name.

Camacho-Bucks has always been fast. It took a while for people to figure out he was wired like that.

Jose Camacho and Christa Bucks-Camacho knew their son’s vigor had to go somewhere. And sure, Antonio was always a considerably better runner than his peers, but not in the way that would suggest he was destined to run 75 miles a week. At football games, when other kids were begging for substitutions, Camacho-Bucks would leave the field with more energy than when he arrived.

In fifth grade, in the middle of a blizzard, it clicked.

“I was trying to stock up for the electricity to go out, and my son is like, ‘Mom, I have to go for a run,'” Christa said. “He said, ‘I’ll be back in 30 minutes.’ So he runs, comes home and says, ‘Mom, can I do it again?’ I was just like, ‘Antonio, I hate to tell you this, but you can’t run in a blizzard.’ ”

Later that year he won a local 5K – not just in his age group but overall. Early in his freshman year, Camacho-Bucks began to take the sport seriously.

“I’ve always been one of the fastest guys in the class,” Camacho-Bucks said. “I thought I was going to give it a shot.”

Soon he had a resume that rivaled his older peers, and he capped off his first cross-country season with a sixth-place finish at the Maryland State 3A meet (no other freshman boy in years 2010 did not finish in the top 10 of a 3A or 4A status meet).

“He’s absolutely fantastic to work with, a fantastic student of the sport,” said centennial coach Kevin McCoy. “I’m a running junkie myself…and he’s just along the same lines as me. We just have fantastic conversations every Monday, and it’s not just about how we raced, but how a college encounter went that he found a way to hack the internet.

In his freshman year, Camacho-Bucks seemed inevitable. He outscored local racers in all but one cross country meet, the Area 3A East Championship, and beat that same competitor by nearly 18 seconds for the state title later that month.

He attributes his work ethic to his mother – “I always told him there was a reason to get up in the morning,” she said – who works long hours for the Social Security Administration, and to his father, who runs a small landscaping business in Ellicott. Town.

But a willingness to embrace relationships and activities outside of racing? There was. But it wasn’t as strong.

That changed in February, when her grandmother passed away unexpectedly. The eldest had always been close to his grandparents and he felt weighed down during the spring track season. When he was driving for practice, the presence that often sat in the seat of the shotgun was not there. When he came home from the YMCA, his grandmother’s enchiladas no longer filled his stomach. And the way she showed her love – rarely with words but with her presence – was absent.

“She was a big part of our family, coming to my errands, coming to everything – it was a big hit for our family,” he said. “She was just a huge, big personality.”

Now, Camacho-Bucks’ passions extend beyond the sport he so often dominates. Later this year he will play euphonium in a local performance, alongside a 90-year-old man who was friends with his grandmother. He plans to continue with the brass until university. He recently took up gardening, helping create a drip irrigation system so his grandfather could water his plants more easily. He continues to make time for scouting.

And yet, there are times when Camacho-Bucks just can’t help it. Cross-country remains a must in his mind. He admits his love of swimming allows him to “flush” the blood and grime that accumulates in his legs during races. When a flight was delayed last year, his father recalled, Camacho-Bucks went back through security and mapped out a 10-mile run around the airport. Even watching movies with his father became an opportunity to improve.

“I made a little massage stretching table in my living room, and yes, I find myself watching Netflix and stretching and cupping,” Camacho-Bucks said. “I just like not having limits, being able to push myself, seeing how awesome I can be.”

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