Eight laps around an all-weather oval is physically taxing for a distance runner even without an additional degree of difficulty.
Greenwood Community High School senior David Dalton knows all about it.
Of the 15 athletes to finish ahead of Dalton in the 3200-meter run at the 2013 IHSAA Boys Track and Field State Finals last June, seven were underclassmen.
This translates into work to do, and Dalton has been doing it.
After placing second at the boys cross-country state meet in Terre Haute on Nov. 2, his talents have been on display this spring in any (or all) of three events — 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs.
Only once this season has Dalton participated in every one. His efforts were rewarded with a trio of first-place ribbons at last week’s Johnson County Meet, which, not surprisingly, earned him the trophy as Performer of the Meet.
When Greenwood’s postseason begins at the Columbus North Sectional on May 22, Dalton likely will focus on the 3,200.
“I’m going back and forth, but I think I’m going to just stick with the 3,200. It’s more personal preference. I enjoy running it more,” Dalton said.
Should Dalton make it back to the state meet, he anticipates a field fast enough to threaten if not eclipse the meet record of 8:51.15 set in 2012 by four-time 3,200 titlist Futsum Zienasellassie of North Central.
“My goal is to go sub-nine (minutes). At state this year there will be a lot of guys who’ll want to go sub-nine. I always set my goals higher than I think I can get because you surprise yourself,” said Dalton, whose 16th-place effort last season in the state finals came in a time of 9:32.54.
Dalton’s durability isn’t frequently seen in high school track.
Eighteenth-year Woodmen coach Tad Frahm recalls Luke McCue competing in the 3,200 relay, 800, 1,600 and 3,200 in the late-1990s for Greenwood but draws a blank after that.
“Luke ran on a team which had some real good field-events athletes and some good sprinters but didn’t have a lot of distance runners,” Frahm explained.
While training certainly factors into Dalton’s success, so, too, does confidence.
Frahm can’t pinpoint an exact turning point but said he first detected a change in Dalton during a track meet last season in Bloomington.
“Something seemed to click, and that attitude carried over to this cross-country season,” Frahm said. “That cemented in David’s mind that he’s a really top-notch distance runner. Being so close to winning state in cross country, he’s now after a championship in the 3,200.”
The temptation to compete in the 800 and 1,600 will be there. Dalton is too competitive for it not to be.
Truth be known, he could possibly advance in all three events. It comes down to prioritizing.
“The higher you get in the tournament, the more you want to keep your legs fresh,” Frahm said. “In the order of events the 1,600 is before the 3,200. You don’t want to have a mile on your legs an hour-and-a-half before running two miles.”
A 3.35 grade-point average student, Dalton a year from now will be running for Purdue University, where one of his teammates will be sophomore-to-be distance specialist Patrick Dalton, his cousin.
David Dalton, who plans to major in management, would prefer to hit the West Lafayette campus as a state champion.
“I think I’m a completely different runner now than I was last season. I’m smarter now with racing strategy, my form is better, and last year my training was really inconsistent,” Dalton said.
“I would like to get the record and I would like to win it. If the state meet was tomorrow, no. Probably not. But by the time of state (June 7), I think I can.”