Near 6 a.m., on a warm, sea-salted August morning on the Oregon coast, Seymour’s Tim Molinari laced up his running shoes and made his way to Coos Bay.
He started his long, daily run at the former home of legendary USA distance runner Steve Prefontaine.
As the sun came up, the high school senior picked up his pace as he neared his destination: Sunset Memorial Park.
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Prefontaine is buried at the park, and Molinari stopped to visit his running idol before continuing his seven-mile run.
While he traveled across the country to the likes of Oregon, New Mexico, Michigan and various parts of Indiana for most of this past summer, cross-country never took a back seat for Molinari.
“The first week of summer I went to Hoosier Boys State and ran every morning,” Molinari said. “18 hours later, I was on a plane to New Mexico to do work through the Eagle Scouts for two weeks.”
After finishing up service work in New Mexico, Molinari flew north to Oregon to meet up with his father for a short stay.
Under the direction of his father, Tim, the younger Molinari upped the tempo of his workouts.
Molinari then came back to Indiana and went to the National Order of the Arrow Conference at Michigan State.
Returning to Seymour, with two weeks until the start of the cross-country season, Molinari was confident to hit the course — running a 17:05 5K.
There was no doubt that his times were good enough to lead the Seymour boys team.
And he would. With all his accomplishments this past season, The Tribune has named Molinari the boys-cross country athlete of the year.
But his season got off to a rough start.
Slow going, strong finish
Things went awry upon Molinari’s return to Seymour.He came down with strep throat and had a fever of more than 106 degrees the day before the inaugural race, the Seymour Invitational.
Molinari returned for the second race, the Bedford North Lawrence Invitational, and placed 20th overall, clocking 18:49.3.
“It was probably my worst time in two years,” Molinari said. “It was terrible, thinking that I wouldn’t be able to run my one home meet besides conference. With all the training before the summer, it was kind of painful to not run.
“I just made sure it didn’t get me down. I was just out of it and trying to recover. After the Bedford Invite, I started getting the hang of it again. Once we got to the Eagle Classic (Brown County), I was back to the No. 1 spot.”
With four different No. 1 runners through his first four meets, Owls boys coach Randy Fife grew frustrated with his team’s inconsistencies.
However, once Molinari returned to full health, the team got back in the right direction.
The turning point was the 2015 Hoosier Hills Conference meet.
Since joining the HHC in 1997, the Owls hadn’t won a conference title.
On their home course, at Freeman Field on Oct. 3, the Owls claimed their first HHC championship.
Molinari led the Owls, finishing sixth in 17:14 to earn his first All-Conference honors.
“It meant a lot,” Molinari said of the school’s HHC title. “During the race, Fife told us it was ‘one day and one race.’ Not just for our group, but for all the other groups that have gotten so close to winning conference. We really wanted it on our home turf. I just kept thinking that my goal was to get the lowest score possible.”
From there, Molinari continued to put up strong times in the postseason as he helped push his teammates to dropping scores.
“The conference meet gave Tim a lot of confidence,” Fife said. “I think it made him feel like he was a part of something big
“At the sectional meet, he then got his season-best at 16:36. The very next meet (regional) he went 16:33. I think he felt like he was developing into a good, front runner. For the first part of the season we went to meets and there wasn’t a clear front runner. By the end of the year, Tim had established himself as a very quality front runner. Once he got there, he stayed there.”
The following week, Molinari finished 32nd at the Brown County semistate in 16:44.
Fife said that Molinari helped lead his cross-country team this past fall.
“Tim is such a nice guy, and is so compassionate by nature,” Fife said. “People gravitate towards those types of people. When you treat people with respect and compassion and are genuinely interested in people — people like that and feel good about themselves when you’re around them. It gave him a platform to lead.
“Its been wonderful coaching Tim. He always wants to be there and have fun, those are the kids you want to coach and make good teammates.”
While Molinari ran in middle school, he tried soccer his freshman year at Seymour High School before returning to the woods for cross-country in 2012.
Fife said that Molinari has made tremendous strides since his first year on the team.
“He wasn’t on my radar at all. He ran in middle school, but I don’t think he was a serious runner — I think he was more in it for the social aspect,” Fife said. “Tim is a very social young man. He’s very friendly and outgoing. He played soccer his freshman year and after track and decided he would run cross-country. Sometimes that works out and sometimes it doesn’t when you switch sports.
“For Tim, it took a couple years for him to see that he had some talent and ability which he had to match with work ethic. Once he decided he could do it, and realized it’s a sport he’s pretty good at, that’s when he made the progress. I’m really proud of how far Tim came from his sophomore to senior year.”
For Molinari, running offers an other worldly experience.
“Running is unlike anything else,” Molinari said. “Anyone can run. It’s about testing the limits of the human heart. What runners go through is superhuman. They go through so much pain during races, but when you reach the finish line it’s absolutely amazing. Running at SHS, our brotherhood is so great — it makes it impossible to quit and give up. We’re all there for each other.
“It’s magical to put on your (racing) spikes. You realize that it’s a pretty neat sport. There is no timeouts, no halftime, it’s just start to finish. I get on the course, say a quick prayer, get ready, and as soon as the gun goes off the adrenaline kicks in. You have to keep a mentality that you won’t give up the entire race.”
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Jake McCullough // Brownstown Central // Senior
Accomplishments: 2015 Brown County Semistate qualifier, personal-best time of 16:54 (No. 16 for BCHS), 2015 Braves MVP
Harlan Deaton // Brownstown Central // Junior
Accomplishments: 2015 Brown County Regional qualifier, personal-best time of 17:34, 2015 Braves Mental Attitude Award
Cameron Lee // Brownstown Central // Junior
Accomplishment: Personal-best 17:48
Cameron Deppen // Seymour // Senior
Accomplishments: All-Hoosier Hills Conference Honorable Mention, personal-best 17:02 (No. 20 All-Time for SHS), helped win HHC title
Hunter Bauserman // Seymour // Junior
Accomplishments: Placed 23rd at regional, personal-best 16:59 (No. 30 All-Time for SHS), helped win HHC title
Jacob Voss // Seymour // Sophomore
Accomplishments: All-HHC Honorable Mention, season-best 17:02, helped win HHC title
Alex Lovins // Seymour // Junior
Accomplishments: Placed 23rd at sectional, season-best 17:18, helped win HHC title
Trent Hohenstreiter // Seymour // Sophomore
Accomplishments: Season-best 17:48, helped win HHC title
Cooper Morrow // Seymour // Sophomore
Accomplishments: Season-best 17:50, helped win HHC title
AJ Goecker // Trinity Lutheran // Freshman
Accomplishments: Six top-five finishes, set school record of 17:22, 2015 Cougars MVP
Luke Onken // Trinity Lutheran // Senior
Accomplishments: Five top-20 finishes, personal-best time of 17:45, 2015 Cougars Most Improved and Cougar Award
Lane Wienhorst // Crothersville // Freshman
Matt Wilburn // Crothersville // Sophomore
Matt Jones // Medora // Senior
Zac Thompson // Medora // Senior
Nikolai Haak // Trinity Lutheran // Senior
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“Tim is such a nice guy, and is so compassionate by nature. People gravitate towards those types of people. When you treat people with respect and compassion and are genuinely interested in them — people like that and feel good about themselves when you’re around them. It gave him a platform to lead.” — Owls boys XC coach Randy Fife
“Running is unlike anything else. Anyone can run. It’s about testing the limits of the human heart. What runners go through is superhuman. They go through so much pain during races, but when you reach the finish line it’s absolutely amazing.” — Tim Molinari
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Tim Molinari // Seymour // Senior
- All-Hoosier Hills Conference (sixth place)
- Personal-best time of 16:33at Brown County Regional (No. 12 best time in SHS history)
- Helped SHS win first HHC title, advance to Brown County Semistate
- Finished as SHS’ No. 1 runner for last six meets
- Ran last three meets under 17 minutes
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Parents: Timothy and Bridget Molinari
Siblings: Christina and Scot
Sports: Cross-country (three years), track and field (four years), soccer (one year)
Athletics highlights: 2014 XC HHC All-Conference Honorable Mention, 2015 XC HHC All-Conference, qualified for semistate (2013-15), 12th on cross-country all-time record board.
Organizations: Eagle Scout
Plans after high school: Attend Indiana State University or IUPUC and participate in cross-ountry
Favorite food: Italian
Favorite TV show “Chicago Fire”
Favorite singer/musicians: Coldplay and Ke$ha
Favorite movie: “Without a Paddle”
Favorite athlete/team: Oregon State University Beavers