Bryan Grumbach has proven himself to be a fast learner in the art of distance running.
A year ago, the White Knoll cross country rookie managed a 31st place finish at the Class 4A state meet. Saturday, in his final prep race, the Timberwolves senior became the first all-state runner in program history (male or female) with a third-place run of 15 minutes, 46 seconds.
“I went out for track as a sophomore for the first time and liked it, so I decided to give cross country a try,” said Grumbach, whose previous best time on the state course at Sandhills Research Center was 16:28.
“I was a lot more confident coming into this season because I had at least some experience, but I really didn’t know what I was capable of doing.”
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White Knoll coach Glenn Robinette had no clue, as well.
“I expected some improvement from last season, but it became evident in the very first race of the season that he’d made significant improvement over the summer,” he said.
Grumbach served notice with a second-place finish behind Dutch Fork’s Avery Dominick at the Lexington County meet in early September. Grumbach, however, had the upper hand at the more meaningful race.
“Bryan is very good at meeting realistic (goals),” Robinette said. “I averaged out the last five times for third-place runners at state and found it was 15:46. I told him that was a good time to go for, and that is exactly what he ran.”
“The pace was fast in the first mile, and I didn’t know if I could keep it up,” Grumbach said. “It went OK, but I sure was tired and hurting at the end, but I guess that’s the price you pay to run at that level.”
Grumbach’s college plans are all about academics. He has applied to Clemson and South Carolina with an eye toward an engineering degree.
“I might give running at try in college if I get the opportunity, but I don’t see how I’ll keep it up after the first year with the course load I’ll have,” he said.
Dominick, Blythewood’s James Palmer and Dreher’s Evan Hanner were the only other Midlands all-state runners. Dominick and Palmer were fifth and 12th, respectively, in 4A, while Hanner placed 14th in the 3A finale.
Blythewood had the top area team finish. The Bengals had the highest team finish at state (4th) and lowest team score (196).
Airport also made a little history with a 244-point, 7th-place effort in 3A. It was the Eagles’ highest finish in the team standings and the second lowest state score.