For The Tribune

Brownstown Central’s Jake McCullough’s No. 1 goal in the Brown County Semistate on Saturday is to continue to drop his time.

McCullough will serve as the lone representative from Brownstown at the race.

“Right now I’m at 16:54, so I’m looking at 16:45,” he said following a workout Wednesday morning at the Jackson Washington State Forest. “My favorite course is Brown County. My goal is to get a (personal record). I won’t make it out to state, but I just want to get a PR. I like the team, and just running. It’s just fun to do.”

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His career best is the 16:54 he ran Saturday at regional.

McCullough said he always wants to get off to a good start and stay as close to the leaders as he can.

“After one mile I kind of want to be around 5:20,” he said. “For my second mile I want to keep it close to the first mile. I don’t want to have a big time gap between those, and I want to keep it consistent throughout the race.”

Saturday will be the fourth time McCullough has ran against the Seymour team this season, and he said he tries to keep up with runners that he is familiar with.

“Tim Molinari or Cameron Deppen or some kids from Seymour, I stay with them because they are close to where I am (timewise). I like staying with someone, but I don’t like to be crowded the entire time. I can run my own pace, and if someone is in front of me I want to be able to pass them so they don’t slow me down.”

McCullough said he competed on the middle school track team in sixth grade, and again in eighth grade.

“In eighth grade I started running distance, and I liked it, so I did cross-country my freshman year.”

He said he runs year-around either at the forestry or around the Brownstown Central campus.

“I ran every day after track and throughout the summer, so it was probably 40 miles a week or something like that. There is a few trails we run on at the forestry. They’re hilly.”

Through the years, McCullough has climbed the ladder for the team.

“At the beginning of my freshman year, I was toward the back, but by the end I was on varsity, and I lettered that year,’ McCullough said.

“My sophomore year, there was still Ryan Franklin (No. 1), and I was fourth or fifth. Last year I was first because Matt Conrad got hurt, and this year I’ve been first all year.”

McCullough said once his cross-country season ends he will take a week off and will begin training for track.

“I will run all winter, pretty much all outside unless there is four feet of snow.”

He likes to focus on the mile in track, plus he runs a leg in the 3200 relay and runs the 800.

“I’d say my best event last year was the mile,” McCullough said. “My best time was 4:45. For the first lap, I want to be around 70 seconds and just keep on going 1:10 each time. That would be keep me on pace for a 4:40.”

McCullough said the relay is not his favorite event, but he runs it to help the team. He helped the Braves set the school record in that event his sophomore year.

He said he trains differently for cross-country than he does for track.

“Track is a lot more speed work than cross-county,” McCullough said. “Cross-country is longer distance but at a faster pace. In track its more 400s and stuff like that.

“I like the individual part (in both sports). I like doing it as a team, and I like the individual part where you can go by yourself and advance.”

McCullough said he tries to run keep a positive outlook, and he encourages his teammates to do the same.

“Running is a lot of mental,” he said. “When you’re running, it is a lot of physical. You can train as much as you want, but when you get out there, you have to have it mentally. You have to know your limits and what you can do, when you’re running your race.”

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Parents: Todd and Beth McCullough

Sibling: Emma

Sports: cross-country 4 years, track 4 yeas

Athletic honors: track- sectional champions 2014, school record 3200 relay; cross-country: most valuable runner 2014, regional-semi-state qualifier, most improved runner

Organizations: Christian Club, Letterman’s Club

Future plans: attend college

Favorite food: chicken pot pie

Favorite TV show: The Walking Dead

Favorite team: Green Bay Packers

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Q: Do you get to see a lot of different trails running cross-country?

A: “I like the variety, but I also like how the sectional, regional and semi-state are all on the same course. I like it that way. This year it’s been nice weather, no rain.”

Q: What’s it like attending Brownstown Central?

“I’ve enjoyed it here. It’s a small school and you know everybody. I’ll probably remember all the people I’ve met, and the relationships, and all the good times I’ve had running track and cross-county. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Q: What are some of your running goals?

A: “Usually my goal is to beat what my last time was. I want to get a PR, lower my time throughout the season.”

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What: Brown County Semi-State Cross-Country race

Where: Eagle Park, Nashville

When: Saturday, 12:30 p.m.

Admission: free

Advancement: The top 10 individuals from non-advancing teams and the first six qualifying teams from each semi-state shall advance to the state finals.