Justin Tyner is receiving instruction to become a pilot and eventually hopes to join the Air Force.
For now the Brainerd High School junior will settle for flying past other runners in cross country meets.
Tyner has won all three meets in which he has competed this fall, pacing invitationals at Moorhead, Little Falls and Pierz. He has one of the top times (16:12) in Class 2A.
Brainerd's Justin Tyner has won all three meets he has competed in this fall.
"Getting to the next level is being able push yourself when nobody is close by," Warriors coach Dave Herath said. "On (Monday at Pierz) he showed little bit of that. He was 29 seconds ahead of the second-place runner, and was pushing himself to get the fastest time he could. That's something Justin Grunewald and Chris Woodard had to learn."
Grunewald, for three or four years, and Woodard last year, were the Warriors' No. 1 runners. That is a distinction Tyner has seized so far this season.
"It's different being up front," Tyner said. "There's nobody to chase after you get up front. It takes a lot of getting used to. Running by myself I'm self-motivated to go faster.
"Sometimes I think if I don't maintain a strong pace someone's going to reel me in, so you've got to be careful to maintain that pace because of the thought they might catch you."
"It started like all my other races," Tyner said. "(Other runners) usually start pretty fast and I try to pick them off at the 800-meter mark and get close to the front. I pulled up front and created a gap. There wasn't really anybody to push me."
Sport: Cross country running
Weight: 150 pounds
Other sports: Nordic skiing, track and field, biathlon
Memorable sports achievement: Running in two state cross country meets
Grade-point average: 3.49
Favorite subject: Science
Favorite food: Pasta, Fettuccine Alfredo
Favorite movies: "Minority Report," "Patriot"
Future plans: Join Air Force, become pilot
Athlete he admires: Eric Liddle in "Chariots of Fire"
Parents: Richard and Linda Tyner
In his freshman and sophomore years Tyner watched the competition push Grunewald and Woodard. Grunewald is now one of the top runners at the University of Minnesota; Woodard is in his first season at North Dakota State.
Tyner was a member of the Warriors' state team in 2003. Last year he finished sixth in the section and 46th at state.
"My freshmen year ... I was not very good," he said. "Then I ran a lot that summer, and went to state. That was really big. It got me motivated to do better my sophomore year.
"I trained hard for cross country (in 2004). Then skiing and track came around. I was fourth in track in the (3200-meter run), and our team went to state in Nordic skiing for the first time in 18 years.
"I'm really motivated to do well in cross country because it's my sport, the favorite one I do. I ran 300 miles last summer, preparing for this season. I got excited about it. Now, I'm doing my best."
The fact that Tyner's doing so well doesn't surprise Herath. Tyner is an avid cross-trainer. As a biathlete he attended a biathlon camp in Vermont last summer. Tyner also estimated he inline skied at least 1,200 miles last summer.
"Justin was a very good runner last year, just behind Chris," Herath said. "He was in the top 10 in most meets. He made a big step last spring. He beat Chris in the subsection meet in the (3200), which lit a torch under Chris, and he ran well at state last fall so I wasn't totally surprised.
"What I am surprised at are the times he's running. He's 30 seconds ahead of where he was last year at this time. We practice hard. To (be ahead of last year's pace) at this time of year is remarkable."
Other notable efforts:
Kelly Rosenthal, girls' soccer had a hat trick against Little Falls and the game-winning goal against Tech.
Josiah Collins, boys' soccer, had three shutouts in the first seven games.
Melissa Hanson, girls' soccer, had four shutouts in the first eight games.
MIKE BIALKA can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
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