THORNVILLE — Matt Bromley pulls no punches when it comes to his goals for this season.
As the area’s top cross country runner, the junior from Sheridan has one thing in mind.
“Anything less than a top five finish at the state will be a disappointment,” he said Friday.
Bromley aims high not because of arrogance or overconfidence — it’s because he’s proven.
He was the top finishing sophomore in the state last season, when he was 15th in Division II (16:26.3) and just 12 seconds out of the top 10.
He was also the only Muskingum Valley League runner to outlast John Glenn’s Zak Geiger when he edged him at the league meet.
Geiger, a two-sport All-Ohioan now at Ohio Wesleyan, was ninth at the state meet.
“He had an unbelievable effect on how I ran,” Bromley said. “I could run every race faster if he was in it. We had a big rivalry and it pushed us. We got along well, but we definitely wanted to beat each other.”
That momentum has carried into 2012.
In addition to an unblemished MVL résumé, he has wins at Lancaster, Watkins Memorial, Circleville, Fairfield Union and Buckeye Lake. He was also second at Pickerington, where he was edged by Fairfield’s Michael Mangus.
He became the only Sheridan runner in school history to win the Lancaster Invitational.
“He has an unbelievable endurance base,” Sheridan coach J.D. Walters said. “He has the ability to process lactic acid and create and get oxygen to his body. … He’s a skinnier runner, but he can carry his weight for long periods of time without slowing down at all.”
That didn’t happen by accident.
He trained throughout the year to maintain that stamina, from long distance running to speed training. He traveled to North Carolina and ran in the Hocking Hills during the summer.
“I’ve been able to finish a lot better,” Bromley said. “I lost races last year because I got outsprinted. I’m doing a lot of progression runs and shorter, faster workouts that are more intense. It’s mostly speed work and strength building.”
The willingness to work on his weaknesses and compete each day helps inspire his teammates, Walters said.
“He runs every single run to his capability,” Walters said. “He doesn’t take days off. He’s just a leader by example. … He gets along with everybody.”
That’s critical on a Generals team that features three key freshmen in their quest to return to the regional.
Bromley takes that role seriously.
“It’s definitely more important for the team to succeed than it is for myself,” Bromley said. “I’m trying to help them any way I can.”
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