PLAIN TWp.: Boardman senior Mark Hadley was both fierce and timid in a victory in the GlenOak Invitational on Saturday morning, cruising home with a 13-second advantage.
Hadley made the first two passes at GlenOak High School — the course snakes through the hillside outside the football stadium and then crosses onto the football field three times — leading a small group of runners, but was the only one left in the picture at the finish line for the third pass. Hadley lost a few seconds because of some confusion at the finish line but still crossed with a 15:36.1. Last week in the OHSAA Pre-Season Invitational in Columbus, Hadley ran a 15:34.95, only a few seconds off his personal best.
Hadley took to a new training regime this summer, focusing more on strength-based training than simply running miles. It’s afforded him the confidence to know that over the final 200 meters, when he needs that extra kick, it’s there. On Saturday, he wowed the crowd with his time, but to him, he was being tentative.
“I’m a little more confident as the race goes on, I’m not so worried about separating early,” Hadley said. “I was a little bit more nervous this week [due to the strong field], a little bit more timid. I came out hard, a 4:45 first mile, and just kind of cruised to the finish. The last part of the race, last half mile, I shut it down a little bit.”
Boardman and Lousville tied for the team win with 74 points. Hadley was joined by sophomore Nathan Hadley (16:32.8) and senior Alan Burns (16:35.7). The Spartans haven’t been to the state meet in 23 years.
Two of the reasons why Hadley was nervous about the field were the runners who came in second and third on Saturday: Hudson junior Kyle Mau (15:49.2) and Twinsburg senior Garrett Crichlow (15:57.6), who happens to be one of Hadley’s good friends. Crichlow was running stride for stride with Hadley until after the second pass through the stadium, when he decided to ditch his headband.
“I feel good, should have done better, but I let the heat get to me,” Crichlow said. “But my time was really good, it just wasn’t my day.”
Mau ran much of the race in a second grouping of runners but powered past Crichlow. Finishing strong has been an emphasis for Mau.
“I’ve gotten better at it, I wasn’t very good my freshman year,” Mau said. “I had a target time of under 16, which was one of my goals. I’m really proud because I couldn’t catch up to Garrett right away, I had to wait.”
Solon sophomore Louiza Wise (19:25) and Brunswick sophomore Vanessa Pasadyn (19:34.5) finished 1-2 in the girls race Saturday. Behind them was a newcomer, Tallmadge freshman Brin Stralka, who made quite a debut in her first high school race.
Stralka finished with a time of 19:42.5 that included a close finish in which she caught and passed St. Vincent-St. Mary senior Julia Mendiola (19:43.2), an accomplished distance runner.
“That makes it harder because you know they’re right behind you then, so you’re trying to go faster so they don’t pass you again,” Stralka said of overtaking another runner late in the race. “It was hard being out in the heat, in the sun the whole time. But it all makes it better because I’m proud of myself. It makes me stronger for other races.”
Mendiola had to deal with some unwanted issues. She’s running with new shoes and by the end of her races can no longer feel her feet. She also says she missed a few races in the summer, so getting back up to speed will take a bit longer.
Mendiola was the leader of five St. V-M runners who finished on the heels of one another, taking places 4-8 on Saturday en route to a St. V-M team win (30 points).
“I’m really proud of our team,” she said, once she got her shoes off and feeling returned to her feet. “We didn’t realize how good of a pack we had yet.”
She was joined by sophomore Rachel Iacofano (fifth place, 19:45.1), freshman Mia Brady (sixth, 20:03.4), junior Cynthia Haas (20:05.4) and junior Shea O’Brien (20:25).
“We knew we were reloaded but didn’t really know what we had,” St. V-M coach Dan Lancianese said. “They’re packing in really nice together and they’re moving the bar up together.”
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com.