Catawba Ridge runner Sam Rich, shown here during cross-country season, continues to up his status as one of the top runners in the country.

If one of the main things in distance running is to distance oneself from the competition, consider Sam Rich miles ahead.

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Mac Banks is a 21-year newspaper veteran, working mostly for the Rock Hill Herald/Fort Mill Times as well as the Aiken Standard and the Lancaster News. He has won more than 60 awards from the S.C. Press...