Four years of running have given Tyler Rusboldt plenty of perspective.
"I've been at all different vantage points," the Chesterton senior said.
As a sophomore, Rusboldt was just outside the lineup on the state runner-up team. Last year, he was a key member of a squad that qualified for state. This season, he's the clear-cut No. 1 runner in an inexperienced group vying for another trip to Terre Haute.
"That's not only helped in my running, it's actually helped the team," the second-year captain said. "Being a leader, I know what the seventh guy is feeling, what the 3-4-5 guys are feeling. I can relate to all of them."
An average runner as a freshman, Rusboldt has climbed the ranks in typical blue-collar, Chesterton fashion.
"I always crack an underlying smile when guys do that," coach Tim Ray said. "It's great to have guys like David (Osborn), but it's also neat to have somebody like Tyler, to see how much he's grown in all aspects. He's really become a student of the sport. He's continued to carry on what the others before him laid out -- work hard and get better."
Rusboldt played baseball and basketball in ninth grade, but gave both up to concentrate on running. It wasn't an easy choice, considering his dad, Bob, was a baseball player at Purdue.
"It was vital," Rusboldt said. "In order to become a better runner, you have to give stuff up."
It got the attention of the veteran 2009 team.
"Those guys noticed the work Tyler put in and took him under their wing," Ray said. "He kind of took off from there."
Rusboldt credits the program's tradition for his ascent.
"With the great teams I've been a part of, it's hard not to get better," he said. "I'm not the only one that's done it. It's something Chesterton has prided itself on over the years. We don't get the numbers or great middle school kids like a Carmel or Valpo, but we work really hard and push our way up every year."
This season, it's been a process of learning how to run up front by himself.
"It's a different ball game when you're up with the fast guys," Ray said. "You don't have the support of teammates around you. It's been a long transition. Tyler's just starting to figure out how to go out in certain races and pace himself."
The light may be going on at the right time, as Rusboldt finished fourth in the Duneland Conference meet. But the low score doesn't measure his true worth.
"He's kind of like a third assistant," Ray said. "He points out intricacies coach (Tom) Moeller and I may miss. Kids hear us so much, sometimes it holds a lot more water coming from a peer. He's been invaluable in that aspect, guiding kids through some things they've been never been a part of."
In a few weeks, Rusboldt hopes to lead that group to the state meet.
"That's my No. 1 goal," he said. "If the team doesn't make it, then I'm striving to be in the top 15 at semistate."