Grider enters with the most big-race experience of his Howard County brethren, finishing seventh in the 3,200-meter run in the track and field state finals in the spring, a race he led for a sizable portion.
”That gets you exposed to racing in front of a big crowd and racing with faster people,” Grider said. “Since you’ve already done it, you know what to expect. Already having that experience will allow me to not be as nervous.”
Kokomo’s Jeremy Breedlove also will make the trip looking for all-state accolades. Making it to state fulfills a life-long dream for the Wildkat leader.
”It was just a weight off my shoulders,” he said. “I’m normally really nervous before my races and everything up to this has just been preparation for this moment. Now that I’ve made it I can just relax and have one last race to go out on. It’s a huge deal, but I don’t have that pressure of ‘I have to do this to advance to the next level,’ because this is all there is.”
Breedlove finished 12th in the semistate at 16:19, but has run the fastest time in Howard County this season, a 15:51 at the Marion Invitational earlier this season at Indiana Wesleyan University.
“There will be a lot more people in the race, and almost all of them are going to be a lot faster, so I’ll have to try to control myself and not go out too fast,” Breedlove said. “As long as I don’t go out too fast and die at the end of the race, I’ll be extremely happy.”
Fort Wayne Concordia senior Zachary Panning is top returner, taking 2nd last year. He had the state’s top semistate time last week at 15:19.