Justin Grunewald wasn't content running for third place.
Grunewald, a freshman and one of two Brainerd Warriors qualifying for the Class AA state track meet, will be competing in the 3,200-meter run today at the National Sports Center in Blaine.
After the North Subsection meet, Grunewald was looking at the 3200 times for both subsections and decided to have a talk with distance coach Dave Herath.
"Justin was looking at the heat sheet and made the comment that most of us are just running for third because the top two guys are around 20 seconds faster than anyone else," Herath said. "So he said, 'Do you mind if I try to run with the top guys?' "
After some thought, Herath and Grunewald decided he would go for it. The following week he practiced at a faster pace to prepare for his goal of 10 minutes for the section meet.
The plan worked. In last week's Section 8AA meet, Grunewald finished second with a time of 9:58 and secured a berth in the state meet. Grunewald will be one of two ninth-graders in today's race.
"This is an example of setting a high goal and believing in it," Herath said, "Good things come out of that. His goals happened, he got to state."
For a first-year varsity runner the state meet can be an intimidating experience. The crowd is larger, the pace is faster and the track at the National Sports Center is different than most of the runners have seen.
But Grunewald and Herath aren't too nervous and Herath cites the strides Grunewald has made in learning what it takes to be a competitive distance runner.
"The biggest deal is pace," Herath said, "He's realizing when other runners are going out too fast or slow and every race he gains more and more confidence that he can compete."
"I'm a little nervous," Grunewald said, "but the way I see it is I'm a freshman. Even 16th place at state would be fine. I'd like to get all-state (top nine finishers) but if I don't I'm not going to worry about it."
"Justin has just had a tremendous year and it shows what having lofty goals can do," Herath said, "If you set your goals high you've really got to reach and he certainly did that."
Area state track and field qualifiers
Boys 4x800 relay -- Crosby-Ironton (Joe Radinovich, Troy Caddy, Trent Anderson and Sam Anderson); Staples-Motley (Jeff Brever, Ryan Klingaman, Bobby Burton, Jason Tholl)
Girls 4x800 relay -- Wadena-Deer Creek (Kourtney Anderson, Katie Lorentz, Elissa Buresh and Avery Buresh)
Girls 100 high hurdles -- Amy Jackson (Bertha-Hewitt-Verndale)
Boys 110 high hurdles -- Adam Barnett (S-M)
Boys 100 dash -- Mike Jacobs (PL)
Boys 4x200 relay -- Staples-Motley (Tony Johnson, Tyler Frisk, Jason Tholl, Josh Smith or Barnett)
Boys 1600 run -- Adam Asfeld (W-DC), Jeff Brever (S-M), Zach Solinger (Pierz)
Boys 400 dash -- Josh Ganske (PL)
Girls 300 hurdles -- Courtney Stach (BHV)
Boys 300 intermediate hurdles -- Adam Barnett (S-M)
Girls 800 run -- Steph Jares (S-M)
Boys 800 run -- Jason Tholl (S-M), David Schwen (PL)
Boys 200 dash -- Mike Jacobs (PL)
Girls 3200 run -- Brittany Brenny (S-M), Hannah Landecker (S-M)
Boys 3200 run -- Adam Asfeld (W-DC), Kevin Heltemes (W-DC), Sam Anderson (C-I)
Boys shot put -- Mike Weiss (B)
Girls long jump -- Katie Palmer (S-M)
Boys long jump -- Josh Hegman (C-I)
Boys pole vault -- Jeremiah Duvall (PL)
Boys discus -- Mike Weiss (B)
Boys high jump -- Jeremiah Duvall (PL)
Boys triple jump -- Kerry Herdegen (LF), Josh Hegman (C-I)
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.