While he checked his goal off of becoming a first-time qualifier to the Division II state cross country meet last week, Circleville junior Colton Pinkerton isn’t satisfied as he’s prepared this week to run at National Trail Raceway outside of Hebron.
“I’m hoping to move up at the state level and get a medal for being All-Ohio,” Pinkerton said. “That’s my big goal now and what I’m shooting for, having a top 20 finish.”
Pinkerton is coming off an 11th place finish a week ago at the Pickerington North regional in 16:37.7, which gives him the 36th fastest time entering the race.
“I’m going to run my race, but it’s going to be with the goal of being up there towards the front of the field,” Pinkerton said. “If I have to run a little faster than I normally do to be in the top 20 come the two-mile mark, that’s what I’m going to do and then put everything I have left into the last mile to try and hold that spot.”
Circleville coach Bill Search likes the way Pinkerton is trending over the last month and believes the junior runner can improve on his pre-race rank.
“Colton’s time over the last five weeks has dropped from 16:58 to 16:37, despite running a tougher course at Rio Grande (at district) and having a muddy course last week at Pickerington North,” he said. “Colton ran a 16:15 here earlier this season at the Kiwanis Invitational, and the course he’s going to run on Saturday at National Trail Raceway is pretty flat.
“If we can get decent conditions, which will depend on the rain on Wednesday and Thursday and how much the course can dry on Friday, I think Colton can approach that. At state, every second is a place, so if Colton can approach 16:15 that should put him in good position to contend for being All-Ohio.”
Pinkerton discussed his workout routine this week leading into the race.
“I’m tapering down my workout some this week in terms of focusing on having more quality workouts and not worrying so much about the quantity,” he said.
Pinkerton has ran cross country since eighth-grade, when he transitioned from playing soccer in the fall.
“I played soccer in seventh grade and then ran track in the spring. I won some races and ran some pretty good times,” he said. “As an eighth-grader, I played soccer and ran cross country in the fall for the first time and I qualified for the middle school state meet and reached the podium.
“That’s when I realized that I have something going with running and I really enjoy it. I’ve focused on cross country and track since then.”
Pinkerton noted that he enjoys the individual aspect of the sport.
“If you run well then that’s all you and if you don’t run well, then you own that as well,” he said. “I enjoy running, because it’s all on you and how good you want to be.
“To be successful in this sport, it requires a lot of dedication and consistency. I run mile upon mile six-days-a-week and take Sunday off to rest. Then, when you get into cross country season, you start seeing that work earn results two or three weeks into the season.”
Pinkerton also respects the work of other runners and uses them as a measuring stick of where he wants to get. One of them is Northwest junior Landen Smith, who finished fifth at the regional meet last week.
“Landen was one of the kids who beat me out in advancing to state in the 1600 last track season,” said Pinkerton, who finished sixth in the race with the top four earning a spot at the state meet. “I went up to watch him at state and he’s an amazing athlete.
“I’m working on closing the gap between Landen and me and when I get up there with him, that’s going to be a pretty good spot to be.”
Pinkerton is working towards Saturday’s state meet being just the opening act for himself on the big stage.
“I want to finish as an All-Ohio runner on Saturday. If I can do that, it’s going to be great and if not then that’s going to fuel me to get back to work and continue to grind,” he said. “I want to continue getting stronger and work towards qualifying for state in both the mile and two-mile in track this spring.
“My goal is ultimately to be an All-Ohio runner in both cross country and track.”