GREENFIELD — The separation was less than 12 seconds.
Those ticks on the official timekeeper’s stopwatch are all that kept Greenfield-Central’s Zach Bishop from earning a berth in the 2014 Indiana High School Athletic Association cross-country state meet.
Placing 23rd overall and 18th in the team placement as a runner, Bishop was 11th-best among those not advancing to Terre Haute with a team last October.
Bishop ran the Carmel Semistate at Northview Church in 16 minutes, 25.5 seconds at a 5:17 pace. The final top-10 individual qualifier, Jona Odell of Cardinal Ritter, finished in 16:13.9.
Entering his senior season this fall, Bishop hasn’t forgotten that race.
“For one thing, I felt I didn’t practice enough for that year. So if I practice enough this year, that means I’ll do better,” Bishop said. “That’s what that means to me.”
He was runner-up at the New Palestine Sectional with a 16:32.60 and turned in a 16:34.46 for fourth at the Rushville Regional.
Each result marked an improvement from the year before when he was seventh at sectional, fifth at regional and 46th at semistate.
However, dropping to fourth individually at the Hancock County meet after a runner-up finish as a sophomore and losing the team championship still doesn’t sit well.
Bishop is running with a purpose in 2015, and he’s not ready to give up on his goal of reaching state.
What are your expectations for the team this season?
Right now, as a baseline, everyone needs to try their best. For team goals, I’d like to see everyone at around 17:30s or under, so that would put us somewhere competing for a top spot at semistate, if not making it to state.
You had a great postseason run a year ago, just missing state, how motivated are you to build from that experience?
I’m very motivated, but more than anything I just want to go out there and try my hardest and have fun.
How much did last year’s seniors push you to go harder?
A lot. I ran with them all three years, and they were the motivation. They were the fun guys to run with. They were the guys, if you beat them, then you knew you were doing great.
Tyler Morris being hurt last year, how much does his return to 100 percent health help you and has it helped you so far?
He’s come back so strong, and I’ve struggled keeping up with him sometimes. Other times, he’s struggling to keep up with me. But we push each other as much as we can.
We’re two different types of runners. I’m more of a hill runner. He’s a flat-course runner. So whenever we’re doing the opposite of what we’re good at, we’re making sure to push each other. It’s kind of like the seniors last year. If you’re beating him, then you’re doing good. He’ll be up there with me, and so will Miguel (Jacob Hansen).
Speaking of which, do you think the three of you will lead the team on the course?
I think so, but the other person that will be up there will be Tommy Hembree, and even though we’re leaders in times, we’re also leaders of the team in morale and (work) ethics. We tell the team to work hard. We’re buying the T-shirts. We’re planning the spaghetti dinners. Thankfully, we have a lot of help from the parents, too.
Mt. Vernon beating you in county last year, how much does that resonate with you?
That was going to be the fourth year we were going to win county in a row, and their top two blew us all out of the water. But we’re hoping to go back and compete against them, even though Christian Noble is, I think, 16th in the state. With Aaron Rush, they’re really good, and Christian is a pretty nice guy, too.
I want to go out there and run with them along with Tyler Morris. If we’re going to beat them, it’s going to take everything we got … all seven of us going out there and pushing it. Doing something amazing.
How do you approach the course each time you run?
The first thing I do is pray. The next thing I do is get focused and relaxed because if you’re tense up, you’re done. You’re going to cramp up. You’re going to quit.
You have to go out there relaxed. You have to have fun. If you can’t smile, you’re smiling on the inside. You can’t just go out there and dread it.
How did you get into running?
When I was younger, I was scared of getting overweight (laughing), so I started running around the school. The (high school) team was there, and I wasn’t in high school yet, so I just started jogging around with them. I had a lot of fun because they were funny. They were actually really good runners for such a small school (Union (Modoc)).
I moved to Greenfield my freshman year.
Beyond Noble and Rush, who are some other runners you need to watch this season?
If Sam Voelz is doing better, I think he’s hurt, but I’m not sure, then definitely him. He’s a tough runner. (Gabe Blake) from Eastern Hancock is another.