ARCANUM – Arcanum junior Tanner Delk achieved a goal that he’s had for years by qualifying for the Ohio High School Athletic Association state cross country meet.
“It feels great,” he said. “It’s like always been a goal, you know, since even when I was in junior high. I just thought about hoping to do that when I was older. It just feels great making it now.”
Delk qualified for the state meet by finishing fourth in the regionals on Saturday in Troy. It was a big improvement for Delk, who last year finished 42nd in the regional meet.
“Just a bunch of hard work,” Arcanum assistant cross country coach Jon Junkins said. “Dedicated himself in the summer. Instead of playing his video games he kind of went running instead, and it’s paying off right now.”
Shortly after competing in the OHSAA state track and field meet in June, Delk began preparing for the cross country season.
“We started a lot earlier, probably like the beginning of June,” he said. “Took a few weeks off after track and just jumped into it right away. I went into this season running a lot faster than I did last year so it’s just really helped out a lot, the preseason training.”
The dividends were evident from the beginning. In his first race of the season, Delk finished third at the Bob Schul Invitational in West Milton with a time of 16:51.1. That was more than 30 seconds better than his personal-best from last year.
“Very hard worker, very humble and just loves the sport,” Arcanum cross country coach Chris Kessler said. “We just want him to succeed because he’s work so hard for it.”
Delk’s success continued throughout this season and included the Cross County Conference individual championship. Now he’s hoping to build on that success this weekend.
“It would be cool to get top 16, but I’m just going to go out there and try to run the best race I can and have fun with it,” he said. “That’s my main goal.”
Delk’s best time this season is 16:20.40, which puts him in contention for a spot on the podium at the state meet.
“Not really too focused too much on time-wise,” Junkins said. “Just going to go out there and race and hope to get top 16 and get that state medal.”
Delk will run in the Division III state championship at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at National Trail Raceway in Hebron.
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.