PITSBURG – As just a sophomore, Franklin Monroe’s Cole Good will enter the Ohio High School Athletic Association state cross country meet as one of the youngest competitors in the Division III field.
Of the 48 boys who qualified for the Division III state meet as individuals, only nine are freshmen or sophomores. The other 39 – more than 80 percent of the individuals – are juniors and seniors.
“If you look at the field it’s not a young field,” Franklin Monroe cross country coach Rick Ingold said. “It’s a lot of seasoned veterans. And so he’s going to have his work cut out for him, but he’s been battling against juniors and seniors all year and doing really well. So I’ve got high hopes that Cole’s going to have a great Saturday.”
Good is excited about the opportunity to run against Ohio’s best when he competes in the Division III boys state championship at 11 a.m. Saturday at National Trail Raceway in Hebron.
“I’m pretty pumped,” he said. “It’s going to be a cool experience, I think, to go and see how I am against guys at that level.”
The Franklin Monroe sophomore was among the last to qualify for state. At Saturday’s regional championships in Troy, he finished 16th in his race and claimed the final state-qualifying spot from the regional.
“It was a little scary,” Good said. “I was kind of nervous. At the end of the race I wasn’t sure if I made it or not so I was kind of wondering if I’d made it. Once I had I was like, that’s pretty cool.”
Now that he’s qualified for state, Good’s goal for Saturday is to beat his personal best time of 16:44.22 – a mark he set on Oct. 22 in the OHSAA district championships at Cedarville University.
Additionally, Good hopes to use this year’s state meet as a learning experience. Being just a sophomore, he hopes he can make it back to state a couple more times and be better prepared as an upperclassman.
“I’m going to have a lot of learning to do from that meet,” Good said.
In his first couple years of high school Good already has come a long way. After finishing 46th at last year’s regional cross country meet, he moved up 30 spots this season by dropping almost 42 seconds from his time.
“As a freshman I don’t know that he really understood the potential that he had,” Ingold said. “As a young kid, most of them don’t. It’s a learning process. When you start to realize that you’re good and you start to realize that you have that potential and you start to really feel it out for where you stack up against your competition, things just start falling into place. He figured it out relatively early. I think last season during track season is really probably … when we went to the regional meet last year and he did really well at the regional meet, I think things started clicking for him, and at that point he really changed into a much more focused and determined runner.”
Good attributes his growth to getting older and growing plus finding others to push him along with self-determination. He wants to continue to push himself on Saturday but realizes he has more time in his high school career to keep improving.
“The great thing about being a sophomore and being the 16th guy in and all of that, there are like zero expectations on you,” Ingold said. “So you can run loose; you can run free; you can just go out and have fun. When you’re the No. 1 qualifier all the pressure is on you. Cole’s got zero pressure on him, and that’s when he runs well.”
In addition to helping Good become a better runner, he and Ingold hope this experience will help make Franklin Monroe’s cross country program stronger. Good is the first Franklin Monroe cross country runner to qualify for the state meet since 2005 when then-senior Mark Hutchinson finished 53rd in the Division III race in a time of 17:21.
“He’s the first runner in probably 12 years to go to the state meet in cross country so that says a lot for where we’ve been and where we’re going,” Ingold said. “Hopefully we can drum up a little bit of excitement and maybe get some other people involved and we can continue building from here.”
If Good continues to progress like he and Ingold expect Saturday’s state championship race could just be the start of a promising career.
“The most important thing is that he goes and has fun and enjoys the experience,” Ingold said. “This is hopefully the first of a couple more trips back to National Trail Raceway.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.