South Knox has established itself as one of the better cross country programs in southern Indiana, and on Tuesday, the Spartans sent another runner on to the next level.
Surrounded by family and coaches in the school’s library, South Knox senior Trenton Faulkner signed to continue his running career at Vincennes University.
Of course, the Spartans’ running dominance isn’t limited to cross country, as those standout harriers have often found their way to success in the distance races in track and field. Faulkner is no different. He’s doing both next year for the Trailblazers.
Faulkner was the second-best runner this year for the cross country Spartans. Most impressively this fall, Faulkner ran 11th in the South Knox Sectional, and a week later he dropped only three spots to 14th in a much more difficult field at the Pike Central Regional.
The senior was 70th at the Brown County Semistate, 50 places and 31 seconds better than where he finished as a junior. Faulkner was also all-Blue Chip Conference, taking third in that meet.
“This past year he was all-sectional and all-regional, and very rarely do we have someone make all-regional, in the top 20,” Spartans cross country coach Matt Toothman said. “He was a great No. 2 for us, and his work ethic showed every day. It was second to none. I couldn’t ask for a better senior with his leadership and work ethic. He was the total package.
“It’s been a year or two since we’ve had someone go (run in college), but it’s always great to see them go to the next level. VU is getting a solid athlete.”
While Faulkner enjoys running, he’s also concerned with his education, which was a major factor in him choosing VU.
“I plan on being an electrical lineman, and a business degree would put me in one of the top jobs with lineman work,” Faulkner said. “After VU, I’ll probably go to lineman school, train there, and hopefully that will lead to better job opportunities.”
Faulkner began running cross country in middle school, but track wasn’t something he picked up on until high school.
“I didn’t do track in middle school. I started doing it because my freshman year I injured my leg. I had a stress fracture, and I did track to kind of rehab. I figured out I was pretty good at it,” Faulkner said.
As a junior Faulkner found postseason success as a member of two runner-up relay teams in the sectional, the 3,200 and 1,600, which also placed sixth and seventh at the regional.
But Faulkner said his favorite event is the 800. He won the Blue Chip championship in that event last season and placed fourth at the sectional, narrowly missing out on the top-three finish needed to advance to the regional.
The senior also noted early high school success led him to believe he could run at the next level.
“It takes a mindset and a work ethic (to run). You have to be tough to do it, and I think I’m pretty tough at it,” Faulkner said. “I noticed I was keeping up with seniors during my freshman and sophomore years, so I knew I had the skill. I knew I had the work ethic too, and I worked hard at it.”
Faulkner goes from one strong program to another, as the Blazers routinely send athletes to the NJCAA National Championship meets.
The VU men’s cross country team had three individuals finish in the top 40 at the nationals in November, and the Blazers placed 13th out of 45 teams. The men’s track team had four top-eight finishes at the national meet last spring, including National Champion shot putter Silas Ristl. VU placed 18th out of 20 scoring teams.
VU also sends runners to the NJCAA Half Marathon competition, which runs two weeks after the cross country nationals, and the Blazers took second at that event last year. Chris Gafner, VU’s track and cross country coach, noted it’s possible that Faulkner could earn his way into that competition as well.