During his senior year of cross-country and track and field at Brownstown Central High School, Brandon Merkle saw individual and team success.
In cross-country, he helped the team qualify for semistate. And in track and field, he was on a relay team that set a school record, helped capture the school’s first sectional title and qualified for regional in two events.
To be successful, Merkle said, you have to be mentally and physically strong.
“In cross-country, it’s all determination. You have to believe that you’re going to be able to do it and do it well,” he said.
“In track, I really feel like in the 400, before I can even think, I’m finished running,” he said. “Nothing goes through my head when I’m running the 400. Before, I thought, ‘I can win this.’ I had a strategy in my head, but the moment the gun goes off, I’d forget that and I’d just run.”
In track this spring, he competed in the 400-meter dash and 1,600- and 3,200-meter relays.
At regional, he ran the
3,200 relay and the 400.
“In the 3,200 relay, we broke the school record this year (8:25),” Merkle said. “I love running that race and trying to break the record every time.”
For most of the season, Matthew Conrad ran the first leg, Merkle and Jake McCullough ran the second and third legs, and Ryan Franklin was the anchor.
“It’s been the same four guys, but against Seymour, we switched it up to try and compete with what their lineup was,” Merkle said. “My first lap, I try to go between one minute and 1:02, and then just go with whatever I have left.”
While running the 400, Merkle said he liked to be in the second or third lane. His best time was 51.74 at the sectional.
“I like seeing the guys in front of me and having to catch up rather than having them catch up to me,” he said. “I feel fine in the curves. I always try to start hard into them and stride out. I try to go for 24 or 25 (seconds in the first 200 meters), and the last 200 whatever I have left.”
Merkle said the 1,600 relay had a solid year, too.
“The 1,600 relay is just how much we have left,” he said.
Merkle began running cross-country in middle school. He said going from running
1.8 miles in middle school to 3.1 in high school wasn’t too much of an adjustment.
“Even in middle school, I ran 5Ks, and we would always practice long,” he said. “My freshman and sophomore years, I was a little kid. I wasn’t very heavy or anything. My junior and senior year, I gained quite a big of weight, so it got harder.”
Merkle said he liked flat courses, and he made it into the 17-minute range a couple of times.
He said the Braves tried to run in a pack.
“We ran as a team, Conrad, Rob (Fox), McCullough and me,” Merkle said. “We would try to stick with each other. Some meets, we would feel really good on the first mile. I remember one meet, I took off first, and they would follow me, and I got tired at the end and they passed me. I would stick up with them in the second mile, and the third mile, we would all run as hard as we could. It was definitely a team event.”
Name: Brandon Merkle
School: Brownstown Central High School
Parents: Greg and Rosa Merkle
Sports: Track and field, four years; cross-country, four years
Athletic highlights: In track and field, helping the team win the first sectional title in school history this year, setting the school record in the 3,200-meter relay, qualifying for regional in the 400-meter dash and 3,200-meter relay; in cross-country, helping the team qualify for semistate in the fall
Home track meets: “I like them. I like our track.”
Favorite away tracks: “I like Bloomington North; and North Harrison resurfaced their track, and it’s really nice.”
Senior season: “We had less than 30 kids, so we were a very small team. Everyone has given their best. We worked together as a team really well. In coach (Sam) Terrell’s first year, he has been a great coach, and I give a lot of credit to him.”
Favorite cross-country courses: “I liked Seymour’s because it’s completely flat, and I liked Bedford’s course.”
Attending BCHS: “I like the small school, knowing all of the teachers, knowing all of the kids. Walking down the hall, everyone knows everyone.”
Organizations: National Honor Society, Letterman’s Club, Booster Club
Plans: Attend Butler University and study pharmacy
Favorite food: Chili
Favorite TV show: “MythBusters”
Favorite singer/musician: Kid Cudi
Favorite movie: “Star Wars” trilogy