When it comes running, Mitchell Grose likes to compete against top-notch competition.
Starting next fall, the Marietta High graduate will get the chance to do just that as he will be a walk-on for the Kent State University cross country and track and field teams.
"I'm extremely excited," Grose said. "I'm going to a school where everyone is extremely competitive."
JORDAN HOLLAND The Marietta Times
Mitchell Grose (right) runs in a race during the 2013 track and field season. Grose will run collegiately for Kent State University.
Grose enjoyed a big senior year at Marietta in both sports, qualifying for state in cross country, under head coach Dale Leeper, and earning East Central Ohio League Runner of the Year honors in track, under head coach B.J. Mayer. Grose advanced to the regional meet in track, where he set a personal record of 9:30.21 in the 3200 meter run, but finished fifth, one place short of advancing to the state meet in Columbus.
Now, Grose, who almost became a Buckeye, will look to continue his success as a Golden Flash.
"I had an opportunity to run at Ohio State," Grose said, "but athletically, it didn't quite work out. I didn't have a plan B at that point and didn't know what to do."
That's when Grose's high school distance coach Rod O'Donnell stepped in.
"Coach O'Donnell coached at Kent State and said they have a good program," Grose explained. "I took a visit and liked what I saw. I talked with their coaches, and within 10 minutes of talking with their distance coach (Mark Croghan), he offered me a spot on the team."
Grose will certainly be in good hands under Croghan, a two-time National Champion runner at Ohio State and three-time Olympian.
"If you can do all that, you know the sport," Grose said.
Grose looked at some smaller schools like Marietta College, where he took some classes during his senior year at MHS, but decided in the end that he wanted to go up against the best of the best.
"I really wanted to run in Division I," Grose said. "I would rather be in a big pond than a small pond. That's just the way I am. I'd rather finish 50th against better competition than win against lesser competition. I just want to know I'm going up against the best."
Grose said that the biggest influence on his running career has been his older brother Scott. Scott Grose was himself a Division I runner for Sacramento State (Calif.). His experience as a runner has greatly benefited his younger brother Mitchell.
"He's shared a lot of wisdom with me," Mitchell said.
"I mainly did track and cross country because he did it. I remember going to all of his meets."
Grose has set tough goals for himself in college, including being MAC Freshman of the Year and eventually getting to the Regional and National meets.
If Grose maintains the dominance that he displayed in high school, all of that is within his reach.