When Gabriel Mudel earned All-State honors as a sophomore at Novi by taking 14th place at the Division 1 cross country state finals in 2015, he thought it would be onward and upward.
Mudel had a tremendous junior season for the most part, but it took a turn for the worse at a terrible time as a case of vertigo leading up to the state finals left him not feeling him himself.
He ended up finishing in 58th overall, around 55 seconds slower than the time he had run the previous year.
After taking seventh place in the 3,200-meter run for All-State honors at the D1 track and field state championships this past spring, Mudel is now poised and ready to complete his prep cross country career with a bang.
“I’d love to finish in the top five and even the top three I believe is attainable,” Mudel said. “After the way last year went, I just really want to have a great race to end the season on.”
Mudel has been in fantastic form all season long, most recently winning the Kensington Lakes Activities Association individual title with a time of 15:33.1 as he narrowly edged long-time friendly rival Ethan Byrnes from Plymouth (15:33.7).
“I felt a little sick yesterday and had a sore throat today but the running conditions were great,” Mudel said. “This is a fast course and my PR is 15:29, so being only four seconds off that I felt good with. I’m not thrilled about it because a career PR would have been nice, but I can’t complain about much.
It is only the second time this season Mudel has been challenged in a race. The only other instance came in the only race he didn’t win, the MSU Spartan Invitational, where he finished a close second behind Coldwater’s Shuaib Aljabaly (15:28.1) with his career-best time of 15:29.2.
If Mudel were to run exactly his personal-best at the state finals on November 4, it would probably assure him of a top-three finish as only one runner finished with a time better than that at the state finals in 2016.
First-year head coach Brad Moore says Mudel should be able to compete for an individual state title if all goes well.
“Our original goal was top five and I still feel it’s a pretty good goal,” Moore said. “But with all the guys out there, he’s seen all of them and competed against all of them. It’s pretty tough to win at that meet, so we’ll see.”