Greenwood boys cross country takes a great deal of pride in its blue-collar, proving-doubters-wrong way of doing things.
The lineage of Woodmen runners willing to go the extra mile reaches back many years, and isn’t excusive to senior Sam Grimes, the team’s No. 1 runner for a second consecutive season.
Rather, he’s the latest.
“Year after year after year, they get the most out of their talent. They get the most out of their ambition,” second-year Greenwood coach Joe Mushrush said. “I think Sam learned from some of the older runners how to push himself.”
Grimes will be doing so on Saturday morning.
The individual champion at the 2022 Johnson County meet at Franklin, he promises to draw more attention than normal from competitors and spectators alike as he and his teammates participate in the annual event.
“It was definitely phenomenal,” said Grimes, who won a year ago in a time of 16 minutes, 34.86 seconds. “I just remember focusing in, and when it was time to run, I was ready to run.”
Grimes, a member of the Daily Journal’s All-County team as a junior after going on to place eighth at sectional, fifth at regional and 58th at semistate, appears poised to save his best for last in both cross country and track and field.
He’s never advanced to the state meet in either, but is hopeful to be in Terre Haute the last Saturday in October and warming up on the Indiana University track come June.
The journey began with Grimes being part of Greenwood’s starting lineup as a freshman cross country runner in 2020. He placed a very respectable 27th at sectional that fall in 18:06.9, followed by taking 39th at regional (18:03.5) and running a time of 18:18.5 to cross the finish line 155th at the semistate in Shelbyville.
Grimes’ regional effort proved to be his fastest time as a ninth-grader. He’s since followed up with top performances of 17:17.90 as a sophomore, last season’s 16:28.10 and already a 16:08.20 at the Columbus North Classic earlier this month.
“Sam has improved quite a bit from his freshman year,” Mushrush said. “When you come in as a freshman, it can be a bit overwhelming. He was always a hard worker. He was always driven. But Sam just hadn’t reached his physical peak yet.”
Mushrush detected something of a turning point in Grimes during the 2021-22 school year. Grimes concurs, adding he felt a lot more comfortable competing once his sophomore cross country season arrived.
“As a freshman, my goal was to run varsity,” he said. “But once I broke that first mental barrier, I felt like I could do anything.”
The past two Saturdays have seen Grimes finish second individually in the Golden Spike Invitational at Decatur Central, leading the Woodmen to a team title in the process, and third in the Mid-State Conference meet at Franklin.
Grimes — a 4.0 student who ranks 32nd academically in a class of 282 students and aspires to eventually run in college while majoring in exercise science or biology — would like to break the 16-minute mark by season’s end. If given a preference, it would be while running at state for the first time in his prep career.
In the meantime, Grimes enjoys passing along what he’s learned to younger teammates.
“They definitely do expect me to achieve. Some of the juniors have looked up to me, and it’s pushed them along,” Grimes said. “They call me Boss Man because I keep them in line.”
If the boss man has his way, he’ll be at the head of the line again on Saturday.
IF YOU GO
Johnson County meet
Where: Franklin Community HS
When: Saturday, 9 a.m.