Munster’s Tom Bolanowski ran back to the team tent a little more than a hundred yards from the finish line dodging raindrops a few minutes after last week’s Crown Point Regional at Lemon Lake Park.
The talented junior is always running, even when his work is done for the day, except for the obligatory cool down and to relax with teammates.
“He’s the fastest one I’ve ever had, and this is my 22nd year,” Munster coach Aaron Brown said. “And he’s had the fastest times I’ve ever had.”
It can only get better for Bolanowski, who’s put together quite a phenomenal season. He’s led the Mustangs to Northwest Crossroads Conference and sectional titles and to a third-place finish in the regional.
Bolanowski finished second to Lowell’s Kyle Eller in the regional, finishing in 16 minutes, 23 seconds, just 15 seconds behind. He’s feeling pretty good and is healthy at the right time of the season.
“I’ve been progressing throughout the season, and I think I’m where I want to be,” he said. “I’m ready to make a run and try to get to state. I think I’ve got a good chance to make it.”
His quest continues at today’s New Prairie Semistate, a course Bolanowski knows well. The Mustangs have run there a few times this season and got a practice on the course this week. The top 15 finishers qualify for state.
“I’m hoping to be well under that,” he said. “I’m trying to get as close as to the top as I can. I’ve done my training, and I’m ready to go.”
Brown said Bolanowski has led by example all season, even though some of his teammates have a hard time keeping up the fast pace.
“He’s been a good front-runner for us and has been a good leader,” Brown said. “He kind of drags those second and third runners along with him for a lot of workouts.”
Bolanowski credits the guidance of his coaches, Brown and Rick Sluder, to keep his training on track to get in position to qualify for the state meet.
“And my teammates have been pushing me throughout the season,” he said. “Manny (Lopez) and Ryan (Kritzer) being up there with me during the races definitely pushes me to get better.”
Bolanowski got a taste of the state meet when the team qualified his freshman year, and it would mean a lot to get back this season.
“I definitely want to get down there and get a nice state race in, and then hopefully come back the next year and do even better down there,” he said.
Two freshmen of note who will be running today are Lake Central’s Zach Hupp and Tyler Kramer-Stephens.