By Bill Cross
For The Herald Bulletin
PENDLETON, Ind. —
Just like his sophomore counterpart Alex Buck, Pendleton Heights boys cross country runner Tyler Flood had a solid freshman season that showed promise. Despite not having a full summer of running to prepare for the season, Flood showed strong improvement in his sophomore year to earn The Herald Bulletin’s Boys Cross Country Athlete of the Year honor.
The improvement came quickly and was sustained throughout the season. It started in the first meet with a seventh-place finish at the New Palestine Invitational, marking a 22-position gain from 2012.
The season continued with a win in the Landes Invitational as both Pendleton Heights teams swept to victory. The boys’ season ended at the semistate in New Haven, going up against nemesis Mt. Vernon along with a stacked field.
In between, Flood showed his potential with several strong runs.
He improved from 28th to 13th in the Hoosier Heritage Conference meet, 19th to second in the sectional, 25th to sixth in the regional and from 122nd to 60th at the semistate. But one result stood out: Flood went from 14th in the Madison County meet in 2012 to first this year.
“Last year I was not in the top 10, so it felt good (to win),” Flood said.
He ran the course nearly one minute faster on his way to the individual title. Flood cut a minute off of his time at both the regional in Muncie and the semistate at New Haven.
“I was stronger this year than last year,” Flood said. “I pushed harder.”
Pendleton Heights coach Alan Holden sees Flood's improvement as a testimony to his competiveness.
“He is very competitive and one of the most coachable runners I’ve had the pleasure of coaching,” Holden said. “I love his desire for winning.”
With that type of improvement, expectations will be higher next year for not only Flood but the entire team.
“Our goal is to make the state finals,” Flood said. “We are looking to get more miles in this summer and be more mentally tough.”
Flood has another incentive to improve, albeit in a friendly way, as his twin brother Tony is nipping at his heels. Tony had an up and down season as he dealt with a nagging injury and a little bit of illness.
“It’s good, brotherly competition,” said Tyler. “We want to beat our opponents first, not each other. But Tony pushes me.”
“They are very competitive,” Holden said of the Flood twins. “I believe Tony would be the reason for the big improvement in Tyler’s times.”
With the boys team on the brink of a state finals appearance and the girls team ready to go back for seconds, the Arabian cross country programs are in a great position. Flood sees it as both a challenge and a friendly competition.
“We like to be equal to the girls, but there is good camaraderie between the teams,” he said.
Pendleton Heights anticipates returning nearly all of the varsity squad for 2014.
“We are a close team, we like to run,” Flood said.
Holden sees an Arabian team that has unlimited potential.
The young team we have now can go further in the cross country tournament next year,” he said. “I believe they only need to believe in themselves and run more mileage in the summer.”