After winning the individual cross country state title last season, Heritage’s David Strome said the focus is not only garnering a new crown, but having his teammates surround him on the regional or state course.
Strome was the lone Heritage runner to make it out of the district meet. Now, in his senior year, he said the team goal is to crack the regional’s top 10 teams.
It was in the district meet last year that Strome set his personal best time of 15:09 in winning the race.
At the regional meet, Strome said he was set on running a more strategic race and save his energy for state. He would finish fourth. The top 10 individual runners advanced to state.
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That plan paid off as Strome raced to the individual state championship.
Strome has already won the Hebron Invitational in the young season this year but said his goals are to have the remainder of the Panthers with him past the district meet and have more runners hopefully qualify for state along with him.
At last weekend’s Marcus Invitational, Strome finished third but said he still had more in his tank.
“I ran with a lot of poise and confidence,” Strome said of his Marcus event. “I felt so strong that I felt as if I could’ve run two more five-minute miles to make it a college 8K.”
As the Panthers lost three seniors on the varsity squad from last year, Stome said there are a lot of younger runners which have been developing and can help the team make a run at the regional event. “They ask me about what to do for shin splints and with my experience, I can help them out. I guess I lead more by example,” Strome said in terms of teaching the younger runners when training on the course.
Toward keeping his pledge to repeat as the top cross country runner in the state’s 6A division, Strome said his summer was very productive.
“I’m stronger than last year. Over the summer I increased my mileage,” Strome said. “I was able to increase my mileage over the summer and have been racing just recently. I try to build my base and toward the end of the season we add more interval work.”
Strome said he targeted logging 80 miles each week over the summer break.
The cross country season is Strome’s preferred venue for competition although he also runs the 3200m and 1600m events in the spring track season.
He finished sixth in the 3200m state meet last season.
“In high school, my favorite is cross country,” Strome said. “I like the longer distances,” he said noting his father was an ultra-marathoner.
That preference for a longer distance has Strome considering among some of the top college cross country teams for competing next year. Collegiate cross country runs an 8K course.
“I love the 5K, but it’s still not far enough for me,” he said. “At a summer running camp I beat … everyone by over two minutes in an eight-mile tempo.”
But he said he won’t make a decision until at least the early signing period in November.
Until then, Strome said he’s focusing again on the making the most of the current season. He is using his success from last year as added confidence rather than pressure.
“I’m shooting for breaking 15 (minutes) this year,” Strome said. “I’ve been running since sixth grade and have just loved the challenge that came with the sport. If you want to be good, you have to run every day. I’m just passionate about it and love the feeling of being free.”