Grant Feldpausch has some high goals for his senior season as part of the Fowler boys cross country team.
One of them is to be among the top 15 times in the state. Another is to be in the top two in the Central Michigan Athletic Conference, one of the toughest Division 3-4 leagues in the state.
Those goals may have seemed almost outlandish when Feldpausch was running in his freshman and sophomore year, but now they seem to be within his reach.
“I don’t know if he even broke 19 minutes as a freshman. He wasn’t one of those that excelled from the beginning,” Fowler cross country coach Sharon Becker said.
Feldpausch has brought his times down since. Way down.
At Michigan State’s Spartan Invitational on Sept. 14, Feldpausch logged a time of 16:54, his second-fastest personal time and the best-ever finish for a Fowler male cross country runner at the event.
“That meant a lot to me,” Feldpausch said. “My sister is on the Michigan State cross country team and she was kind of helping hand out the division awards for the small school division that I was in and that was kind of a cool moment.”
Feldpausch was even lower at the Carson City Invitational on Saturday, running a 16:44 to take third place individually out of 87 runners in the blue division race.
Feldpausch is coming off a junior season that saw him make all-state with a 27th place in the Division 4 state meet in 16:48.
“I’ve dropped a couple seconds this year,” Feldpausch said. “I wanted to improve my foot speed and my final mile of the race so I had a better kick and we’ve done some more intense speed workouts, so I think that’s really helped.”
“It’s got to be his hard work ethic. He’s a very hard worker,” Becker said of Feldpausch, mentioning both the work the senior has put in on the track as well as on his family’s farm in Fowler. “He started out as a pretty good runner in middle school and he still worked hard his freshman and sophomore year and he couldn’t get his times down.
“He makes good choices as far as his eating goes. He gets good sleep. He definitely takes care of himself off the track, which makes a difference as an endurance runner.”
As Feldpausch continues to drop his times while trying to carry the Eagles to the Division 4 state meet, he’s also spurring interest in the cross country program at Fowler.
The program has waned the past few years due to a lack of numbers. At a small school like Fowler, which has not reported an enrollment of over 200 since the late 1980’s, athletes for all varsity sports can be few.
Feldpausch recounted certain occasions in past seasons where the Eagles didn’t have enough runners for team meets due to injuries and a thin roster.
“He’s bringing it all back. He’s bringing the attention back and people can start thinking that cross country is something Fowler needs,” Becker said. “I think (the younger runners) see him sticking with it and they saw him as a freshman running over 18 minutes. That’s what it’s showing the younger kids, that through hard work you and your program can have success and it’s paid off. He’s been in the program six years. He could have chosen football. A lot of kids choose football, but he’s showed you can be proud that you’re a cross country runner.”
Fowler will run in a tough regional on Oct. 27 at Carson City, with several quality programs vying for just three spots in the Division 4 final.
The top 15 individuals from that regional will also advance to states and Feldpausch hopes to be one.
“He’s going to peak at the right spot,” Becker said.