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  • File Snider's Jesse Hamlin will have his first big-meet opportunity of the season at Franklin Central's Showcase and turn around and run a leg of the Panthers' distance medley relay at Saturday's North Side Relays. 

Friday, April 13, 2018 1:00 am

Panther poised to succeed

Junior runner looks to impress this weekend

AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette

North Side Relays

When: 10 a.m. Saturday

Admission: $6

Participating schools: Bishop Dwenger, Carroll, Concord, Concordia, East Noble, Homestead, Huntington North, Jay County, Leo, North Central, North Side, Northrop, Snider, South Side, Wawasee, Wayne

Snider junior Jesse Hamlin's running career began in fifth grade during a physical education class. He has since evolved into one of the top runners in the area and the state.

“We got this new gym teacher and she was this mean old lady and she wouldn't let us play dodgeball anymore so she had us run laps and stuff,” he said. “She sent home a thing for the parents to get them to do elementary miles at Shoaff (Park) and I did a couple of those and I knew it was for me.”

Hamlin is 6-foot-2 now and, like the typical distance runner, has a lean build. The love for running came from the fact that he could be competitive and win.

“Originally what made me like running was just being good at a sport,” he said. “I've never been that coordinated so even being 6-2, basketball wasn't really my thing. Being able to be competitive and win, I like winning.

“My progression as far as a runner has changed a lot. It used to be a lot of slacking off, getting by on my talent and just winning some mediocre middle school races and then getting my butt whooped at eighth grade city and deciding that if I ever wanted to win again, I had to rely on more than talent and more on hard work.”

Hamilin had a breakout season in cross country and track as a sophomore, earning All-State honors in the 3,200 meters and distance medley at the indoor Hoosier State Relays and in the 1,600 at the outdoor state championships.

He was helped along by Roman Jennings, who is now a freshman at IUPUI.

“The fact that he had Roman as a sophomore to train with, that's when we really started seeing the breakthrough, midway through the cross country season,” Snider distance coach Brad Altevogt said. “Things just really, really started to click. His tempos got faster and he really broke through in some of the hard workouts and was right up there with Roman, who obviously had an outstanding high school running career.”

Hamlin's success continued this season, dropping his 5 kilometer personal best to 15 minutes, 24 seconds in cross country. Because of bad weather, he was unable to race at the Hoosier State Relays on March 31, but today he's expected to compete at the Franklin Central Showcase “Miracle Mile” and will run the anchor leg on the Panthers' distance medley team at Saturday's North Side Relays.

“This weekend, I'm hoping to show up to the Miracle Mile in the best shape I can, ready to race,” Hamlin said. “Just take care of all the little things. It's a later race (around 9 p.m.) so I have to make sure I get the right kind of nutrition and hydration and get out there and compete. If I compete to the best of my ability, there's no way the school record (4:16) can't be lowered. It's just what I'm going for.”

Today's race is also an opportunity to boost his recruiting, especially after a sub-par performance at cross country state in the fall (76th, 16:26).

“I feel like I didn't showcase my talent there where I knew they were all watching,” Hamlin said. “The Miracle Mile, top three on Friday should get them calling.

“I think I can probably run 4:12 so depending on where (Hamilton Southeastern's) Gabe (Fendel) and (Cathedral's) Cole (Hocker) run, I should be in a good place to kick.”

areichel@jg.net