CLINTON — Senior track season was made a little extra sweet for Clinton’s Ty McGruder after districts last week at North Scott High School.
McGruder’s name is listed four times on the state qualifying sheets: he will be running in the 4x400-meter relay, the 400-meter dash and the 400-meter hurdles, then travel as an alternate for the 4x300-meter relay.
“It’s very exciting,” McGruder said. “I wasn’t that confident in the 400-lows, but I made it and I’m really happy about that.”
Four events is the maximum an athlete can participate in.
“Last year I made it for three events, and I wanted to make it to four,” McGruder said. “I’m happy to get this opportunity.”
It’s definitely unique, and just the way he wants to finish out his athletic career as a River King.
“It means a lot,” McGruder said. “The little things matter. It’s going to be cool seeing my name on the state shirts four times for four events. That’s too cool.”
It was a bit of a wait for the senior to hear if he was going to make it in all the events. He finished third in the 400-meter dash with a time of 50.84 and fourth in the hurdles, clocking in at 57.51. Both of the relays had to wait to hear as well.
“I believe we’re in one of the toughest districts,” McGruder said. “There’s a lot of good people in there and a lot of heavy competition. We waited it out, and I’m glad we made it.”
McGruder said if there is one thing track has taught him it is that you get what you put into it.
He learned a lot from upperclassman throughout the years.
“It was a lot of preparation and watching the dudes before me,” McGruder said. “I was running with a lot of good guys my freshman and sophomore year. I was the sub dude for the 4x400, and that’s pushed me to work hard and get there.”
He is using that knowledge in his own senior leadership role now, heading some young relay teams.
He hopes he can make a splash. He is currently ranked 16 in the open 400, and 19 in the hurdles.
“This is my third year in a row in 400-lows. I haven’t placed yet,” McGruder said. “I would really like to PR at state, because for some reason I run bad at state. This is redemption for me.
“It’s all or nothing. This is my last chance getting to run at the blue oval and I want to give it my best shot and give it my all.”
Anyone who has ran track knows that 400-meters is no easy feat, hurdles or not. For McGruder, the support he gets from teammates on the second curve is where he gets his motivation: that’s his moment.
“The second curve—we always have people, like last year it was Ty Wenzel, and they sat at the curve and said you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go. I always get a kick from that.”
Even with thousands from across the state sitting in Drake Stadium this weekend, he will keep that same thought in his mind.
“It’s going to be loud, but I’m going to keep that in my head,” McGruder said. “I know my guys will be cheering me on, and I’m going to run as fast as I can.
“I want to go out big, do my best. I’m glad to be a River King.”
McGruder runs the 400-meter dash on Thursday afternoon and the 400-meter hurdles on Friday morning.