While Mays was the only representative from Interboro at the state meet, he received satisfaction that seven other Delaware County runners joined him for the competition at Penn State on Nov. 7.
``I was really pleased so many kids from my county made it to states,'' Mays said.
It was Mays' third straight appearance at the state meet, and he improved each season. He finished 75th as a sophomore, 29th as a junior, and earned a medal this season with his 18th-place showing. The meet capped a campaign during which he went undefeated in Delaware County and Del-Val League dual meets, won the Delco title, took the Del-Val crown for the second straight year, and finished sixth in District 1 Class AAAA/AAA.
``He figured out it was his to lose this year,'' McGrotty said of Mays' sweep of the Delco and Del-Val League titles. ``It's hard to win, and it's harder to repeat. High school kids can get complacent. It's hard to stay on top, but he stayed focused. He's of a singular mind and that made it really easy to work with him.''
Mays' brothers, Don, 21, and Joe, 18, preceded him as runners at Interboro, and Dan decided he wanted to race for the Bucs and McGrotty.
``Don was one of those kids who gave his heart,'' said Dan, who was also inspired by his freshman brother Fran's membership on the team this year. ``He has asthma. You feel obligated to run for the kids who are out there every day.''
Mays showed promise as a freshman, running in the mid-18-minute range for 3.1 miles. His greatest breakthrough came during his sophomore year, when he finished the season as the No. 1 runner on the Del-Val League championship team and qualified for the state meet.
Over the next two years, Mays did nothing but improve. He broke through the 16-minute barrier with his 15-minute, 48-second performance at the district meet.
``There was not a lot of room to improve, but he did and was incredibly consistent,'' McGrotty said. ``He was like clockwork. He could run low 16's if he needed to, but he didn't get caught up in himself and kept his teammates in focus.''
Indeed, Interboro finished with a 6-3 record this year with Mays, Scott Peters and John Hadfield as captains. Mays ran with teammates Peters and Jim McNamee in several races, turning around while on the course and encouraging them, before taking off in the final mile.
``It was almost constant chatter,'' McGrotty said with a laugh. ``He would run two-plus miles looking over his shoulder. . . . This team formed a backbone for a lot of fun times and competition.''
Since he entered Interboro, Mays has run cross-country, indoor track and spring track every year. He is a member of the National Honor Society, and missed straight A's on his most recent report card by a single point. He is also a member of the school's TV program, the yearbook and Class Congress, and works the camera at Interboro's football games.
``You have to split up your time evenly,'' Mays said.
Mays is currently deciding on a college from a list that includes Cabrini, Coastal Carolina, St. Joseph's, West Chester, Widener and Villanova.
While he has run faster than his teammates and received more recruiting letters, Mays has remained humble.
``My family and teammates have played it down,'' he said. ``They don't put any pressure on me to win this race or that race. During practice everybody is equal.''
But some runners are more equal than others.
ALL-AREA BOYS' CROSS-COUNTRY TEAM
Listed in alphabetical order.
John Alvanitakis, Sun Valley senior. Alvanitakis placed second in the Del-Val League, fifth in Delaware County, fifth in District 1 Class AAA, and 16th in the state.
Jon Dukes, Haverford High senior. Dukes placed eighth in Delaware County, seventh at the Bulldog Invitational and 14th in District 1 Class AAAA.
Patrick Flanagan, Radnor senior. Flanagan took third at the Bulldog Invitational and seventh in District 1 Class AAA.
Josh Jordan, Penncrest junior. Jordan won the Central League title, and placed fourth in Delaware County and 10th in District 1 Class AAA.
Ryan Kobb, Cardinal O'Hara senior. Kobb finished second in Delaware County, fourth in the Catholic South and seventh in the Catholic League.
Jon Kopay, Ridley senior. Kopay won the Lafayette Invitational and finished third in Delaware County.
Dan Mays, Interboro senior. Mays won the Delaware County and Del-Val League titles and finished third in District 1 Class AAA and 18th in the state.
Richie Anderson, Cardinal O'Hara sophomore.
Mike Grube, Upper Darby senior.
Bryan Healy, Monsignor Bonner senior.
Kevin Kiiru, Strath Haven junior.
Josh Lyman, Sun Valley junior.
Tim Marquez, Upper Merion junior.
Tyler Wren, Episcopal Academy senior.