ELYSIAN FIELDS -- Last year, as a freshman, Grant Sims missed his goal of qualifying for state by three spots. This year, he made sure things were different with a strong performance at regionals to punch his ticket to the state meet in Round Rock.

“I just worked my tail off,” Sims said. “I just had to be patient and work hard for it so that’s what we did for the summer.”

Sims has been running for almost as long as he can remember.

“Since I was a little kid, for a while,” Sims said when asked when he started running cross country. “I started when I was about 6, maybe before that.”

His mom, Jana Sims, is one of his coaches and ran cross country at ETBU.

“Family heritage,” he said, “keeping it alive.”

Sims runs about 10-12 miles a day and said he finds it to be therapeutic.

“If you have a bad day, you can just go as fast as you want to and channel some of that negative energy into running,” he said.

He added the sport has provided him with opportunities to build relationships.

“I just like being able to socialize and talk to people, like if they had a bad race or something, I like to help them out,” he said. “I try not to make it just about me. I like to help other people out too.”

“For us to have a state qualifier, that’s what we’ve been shooting for,” Elysian Fields cross country coach Larry Hurta said. “We started at the beginning of the year and we said, ‘state bound.’ We wanted to have a couple more runners at state and we’re working toward that.”

The Elysian Fields sophomore isn’t just satisfied with making it to state but plans on having solid results in Round Rock.

“I’ve made a spread sheet and I’ve predicted myself to get seventh but I’m going to get top five,” he said.

“I anticipate that if he can run this well at state as he did at regionals and improve his time from regionals, we should see a great finish from him. For him to go from No. 18 last year to No. 2 this year is massive.”

Sims said he looks forward to representing Elysian Fields and East Texas on a big stage.

“It’s great,” he said. “I enjoy it. I’m very proud of our East Texas guys. I have a friend from Waskom who’s going to state with me, who’s competing with me. It’s great. We can show people around the state of Texas what East Texas is all about.”

Sims is slated to run on Monday.