Sept. 7, 2017 - McComb Harrier Jacob Rider

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McCOMB, Ohio (WTVG) - It was only a few years ago that McComb did not even have a boys cross country program.

Sure, the Panthers would have maybe one or two runners in the fall, but they would usually train with another school while wearing McComb across their singlet. But never a group, a team or a program.

Now, McComb's lead runner is the new school record holder with a time of 16 minutes 55 seconds. His name is Jacob Rider.

"Running is my passion," Rider said. "I like to see other people out there running and having a good time. I think it's really fun. I'd like to be able to show people what you can accomplish when you put in the work."

Rider began pounding the pavement in junior high. Three years ago this coming weekend at the Tiffin Cross Country Carnival - as a freshman - Rider ran just over 21 minutes for 3.1 miles.

Three years later, he's more than four minutes faster.

Sure, other high schools have faster marks on the boys side. But in five years of current head coach John Sunderman growing the program, McComb now has about a dozen boys on the team.

"(Jacob) is setting an example for everyone else in the program for what hard work can do," Sunderman said. "Where we were a few years ago to where we are now is light and day. He's caught a glimpse of that.

"In the last twelve months is really when he turned it on."

It is believed that McComb High School has never sent an individual to the OHSAA State Cross Country Meet. Rider wants to become the first in school history while also decreasing his time.

"Under 16:20 would be amazing," Rider said. "I would really like to be under 16 minutes. If I can get into that 15 minute (range), I mean, I can't ask for anything better than that."