John Collet wasn't trying to imitate Pheidippides, the first marathoner, but he ran the same way Pheidippides did.
"We used to run our meets barefoot," Collet said. "I liked it, and I felt comfortable.
"Of course, we ran on soft courses, golf courses like Cressmoor (Country Club in Hobart). It was just natural to run in your bare feet."
Collet said he won his first sectional in bare feet, then the IHSAA said runners had to run in shoes.
Collet had quite a prep career. He was a four-time sectional champion in cross country.
"I am proud of that because that is one record that will never be broken," he said. "It can be tied but never broken."
He is part of the Indiana Association of Track Track and Cross Country Coaches Hall of Fame Museum's silver and golden anniversary team. Collet, a 1966 Griffith grad, is part of the gold team which will be honored Saturday at the IHSAA state cross country finals in Terre Haute.
"It is an honor and I am looking forward to seeing those guys, especially (Hall of Fame director) Marshall Goss," Collet said. "My wife Carol was a big part of it and my coaching career, and she will be there, too."
Collet won the state 2-mile championship in 1966 with a time of 9:31.
He was runner-up his junior and senior years in the state cross country meet. In 1964, he finished second to West Lafayette's Mark Gibbons, who set a state meet record in 9:26.6. The previous best was set in 1963 by Indianapolis Washington's Dennis Grider (9:40).
"I beat the old mark, too, but didn't win," Collet said.
His successes earned him a scholarship to DePaul where he competed in both sports. The Blue Demons had to be creative since they had no true track facility other than running the halls of old Alumni Hall.
"Lincoln Park was where we ran," Collet said. "We trained outdoors all year-long and I think it made us tougher and better runners."
That included the blizzard of 1967.
"Running in snow made your legs stronger," Collet said. " I used that when I coached track at Bloom Trail. My guys hated it, but come the end of the season when it counted, they were in great shape."
Collet went to coach cross country at Griffith, Highland and Bloom Trail. His 1983 Bloom Trail team was second in the Illinois High School Association's Class AA meet, losing 49-46 to East St. Louis Lincoln. The 1985 Trail Blazers were third in Class AA. At Bloom Trail, he had some great track meets with Bloom, coached by legendary coach Lonnell Poole, for the bragging rights of Chicago Heights.
"Lonnell always had a powerhouse and all those kids knew each other," Collet said. "We had some great teams back then and our conference (SICA East) had Homewood-Flossmoor, Thornton, Thornridge, Thornwood, us and Bloom. A great track conference."
Collet and Carol are busy getting their new sporting goods store ready for its opening. They merged St. John Sports and Mike's Sporting Goods and will open a new Mike's Sporting Goods in a strip mall in Schererville.