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Woodmen junior sets sights on state cross-country meet

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Greenwood junior David Dalton was the individual champion at the recent Johnson County Boys Cross-Country Meet. He is a frontrunner for the sectional title heading into today's postseason opener at Franklin.
Greenwood junior David Dalton was the individual champion at the recent Johnson County Boys Cross-Country Meet. He is a frontrunner for the sectional title heading into today's postseason opener at Franklin. PHOTO BY STEVE McCLURE

Forgive David Dalton for looking beyond the sectional. And the regional. And the semistate.

His prime objective is the state meet. All of the above are steps along the way.

That’s how he’s approaching the cross-country postseason, starting with today’s Franklin Sectional.

“I think I’ve had a pretty good season. I’ve been putting in a lot of mileage,” said Dalton, a Greenwood junior who enters the sectional as the defending Johnson County champion. “I feel pretty good going into sectionals. I’m hoping to make it to state this year.”

The Dalton File

Name: David Dalton

Sport: Cross-country

High school: Greenwood

Year: Junior

Age: 16

2011 postseason: Placed sixth at sectional, fifth at regional and 32nd at semistate

Other sports: Competed in swimming but gave up the sport after sophomore season to focus on cross country

Favorite TV show: “Community”

Favorite movie: “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”

Favorite book: Running For My Life

Parents: Chad and Amanda Dalton

If you go

What: IHSAA Boys and Girls Cross-Country Sectional

Where: Franklin Community High School

When: 5 p.m. today

Competing schools: Center Grove, Eminence, Franklin, Greenwood, Greenwood Christian Academy, Monrovia, Mooresville, Perry Meridian, Shelbyville, Southport, Waldron, Whiteland

“It definitely won’t be easy, but I think I have the potential to do it.”

If history is an indication, Dalton is on the right path.

Undefeated in dual meets, other season highlights include winning the Whiteland Invitational as well as the recent county meet. He was second in the Mid-State Conference Meet and enters the sectional as a frontrunner for the championship.

But as successful as he’s been to this point, Dalton isn’t satisfied with his times. He’s convinced there’s plenty more in reserve.

“The races haven’t gone as well as I’ve wanted them to, but I think that’s going to happen,” said Dalton, who began running cross-country in fifth grade. “Come sectionals, I always dial down.

“I always wind up performing as I would expect to perform.”

Last year, his postseason burst carried him to the semistate meet. He finished sixth at sectional, fifth at regional and was 32nd at semistate. The top 15 individuals from non-advancing teams qualify for the state meet.

Although Greenwood coach Bob Curts doesn’t predict advancement, he is cautiously optimistic about Dalton’s chances of qualifying for state.

“Everything’s looking really good right now. We’re looking forward to the state series starting,” said Curts, who’s in his 19th season at Greenwood. “David’s big key meet of the year obviously is semistate. His goal is to get to state. That’s kind of the big day on the calendar.

“All the training is preparing for that particular day. I think he can (advance to state). It’s so hard to tell, because it’s just not about what you’re doing, but what everyone else in central Indiana is doing.”

Dalton expects the sectional to be a good gauge. Among individuals who’ll be vying for the championship is Mooresville’s Michael Passmore, the defending Mid-State Conference champion.

Dalton has yet to beat Passmore this season and was runner-up to him at the conference meet. Far from frustrated, Dalton relishes the competition, confident that it brings out his personal-best.

He plans to approach the sectional with the same way he did the county meet. Which is to take nothing for granted.

“I knew I had a good chance (to win), but I never go into a race telling myself that it’s going to be easy,” Dalton said. “I was prepared for whatever came. I was definitely hoping.”

Curts, who is on his second stint as Greenwood’s coach, insists “hope” has nothing to do with Dalton’s winning pedigree. His father, Chad Dalton, ran cross-country for Curts in the late 1980s. So did his uncle, Andy Dalton, who was one of the most successful distance runners in Woodmen history.

Beyond the family connection, the youngest Dalton has a passion for preparation and training that Curts has rarely seen.

“I’ve coached 19 years, and I’ve probably only ever had one other runner that’s put in the kid of work he does in the offseason,” Curts said. “He’s just very self-motivated. He logs lots of summer and miles and (competes) in several races.

“He’s just so driven. He has a tremendous work ethic.”

One that, with any luck, will take him all the way to his desired destination: the Oct. 27 state meet in Terre Haute.

“I’m pretty confident that I can do my best,” Dalton said. “I’m ready for anything.”

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