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Chico State cross country commit finds himself right at home.

Will Denner
Chico High’s Charlie Giannini (center) and parents Meghan Callahan (left) and Scott Giannini (right) smile during a ceremony Wednesday at Williams Theater in Chico where the senior signed his letter of intent with the Chico State men’s cross-country team. (Will Denner — Enterprise-Record)

Each year, student-athletes from all over the country decide which school they are going to compete for on the collegiate level.

For Chico High’s cross country star Charlie Giannini, that was his hometown’s own Chico State.

Giannini grew up in Chico and joined the cross country team after one of his longtime childhood friends joined.

He didn’t have any competitive running experience at all and didn’t exactly know what to expect when he showed up for the team.

“At first, I was kind of just there to keep my friend company, but it quickly became a really big part of my life and something that I enjoy a lot,” Giannini said.

The team is coached by Kevin Girt, a Chico State alumni who ran on the cross country team in the ’90s.

“Coach Girt is a great coach and he doesn’t ever put any of his runners down and if you have a bad race he just says: “we’ll get past that.”…He’s been really important to my success,” Giannini said.

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Charlie Giannini is a senior attending Chico High School and will be running for his hometown Chico State Wildcats in the Fall semester. Photo credit: Ricardo Tovar

Giannini’s teammates have also been a big part of his career and a motivating factor for him.

“I run alongside a good group of friends that I’ll probably have in my life forever, and the support from them, my parents and Coach Girt has been a huge motivator,” Giannini said.

Giannini has been on the cross country team all four years of his high school career which has also opened up doors for him to compete on the track and field team. He runs in the 1600-meter and 3200-meter events and has the team record for both of those events this season.

Giannini will also be running these long-distance events for the Chico State track and field team.

Giannini’s hard work and accomplishments don’t end there, either. The senior’s efforts in the classroom have earned him a 4.2 overall GPA.

“We have a lot of hard working and high performing kids at Chico high and Charlie exemplifies that,” said Gary Story, the athletic director for Chico High School.

Giannini’s grades and performance within his sport attracted several colleges to him and he soon had a decision to make.

“In the end, it came down to Humboldt State, Chico State, and Cal Poly, but Chico State just felt like the best option for me due to the fact that their team is so well developed,” Giannini said.

Giannini feels like Chico State is the right choice for him and is happy to have landed here.

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Giannini has spent his entire life in Chico. When given a choice he decided to stay home and run for coach Gary Towne. Photo credit: Ricardo Tovar

His parents have supported him a lot throughout high school and were also there to help him through the decision-making process.

“One day, me and my dad sat down and talked about it all and we kind of just both knew what the answer was: Chico State,” Giannini said.

Being able to represent his hometown on the collegiate level also played a part in Giannini’s decision.

“We get a lot of support from the Chico community and with it being such a small town, we also get a lot more recognition than we would other places so it feels good to be able to represent that,” he said.

Chico State’s cross country team has been quite successful in recent years under head coach Gary Towne. They have won an amazing 17 straight CCAA championships.

“I’m really looking forward to being apart of a really well developed and successful team and I’m very excited to be running for Chico State,” Giannini said.

He is also looking forward to all of the educational opportunities that will come with going to Chico State. He plans to major in biological sciences.

In the meantime, he just wants to finish his senior year on a strong note academically and do well in his last few remaining track meets.

“I’m kind of just taking everything one step at a time and I can’t wait for all that is going to come with learning and competing at the next level for the Wildcats,” Giannini said.

Matthew Ferreira can be reached at [email protected] or @MattFerreira__ on Twitter.

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