Coach Gleich writes:
The format for the race changed this year with no separation between the Varsity and JV runners. While this generally helps the JV runners produce better times, it also severely crowds the starting line. More than 300 athletes packed the line awaiting the gun in a sweltering 96 degrees with a 104 heat index. Wow, what an oppressive way to begin the season! To add to the confusion, two concrete volleyball poles where in the direct line of the Priory runners who had drawn the last lane near the fence. After the coaches rolled the poles to the side, everyone was ready to begin.
A smooth start saw the hoard charge up the hill, with Priory runners trying to stay on the uphill side. There was no doubt who the competition was since Potosi and Festus (#1 an #2 in State in 2013) were are the front of the pack, with St. Genevieve and Hillsboro runners mixed in with them. Knowing that the race is not won within the first 400 meters, Priory chose to hang back just a little until the crest of the hill. By the time the runners legged it up the second long hill to the 1K mark, Jake, George and Thomas were all in the top 35 with Jake leading our pack. William was just a tad back in 45th position. Luke, and Parker rounded out our top six, with Kyle and Alex about 10 seconds behind.
These positions held solid with Jake contending in the top pack between 15th and 18th, George hanging out at 27th and Thomas a mere 5 seconds behind him in 33rd at the 2.5K mark. William and Parker were slowly moving up, each gaining five places by the 2 mile. Sweltering conditions took its toll on some athletes, but the Priory freshmen were surprising themselves by running 9th (James Coyle), 11th (Greg Rolwes) and 13th (Will Steger) for the Priory squad. By the 4K telephone pole, just before the uphill to Cannon Gate, Parker caught Luke and Alex Lowell also surged behind him.
The uphill finish on this course consists of a double hill covering 300 meters. It seems like it takes forever to spy the finish line, but the screaming fans help propel you up the hill. They cheered on Ben Naeger from St. Gen as he pulled away for the pack to become the only runner to break 17 on the course. A dynamite Festus team packed their top five in the top twelve, all under 18:37. A surprising Whitfield squad smoked the final mile to place their top five in the top 30 places, while Hillsboro and Potosi each had three runners in the top 20.
Jake led the Priory charge to the finish by nosing out a Festus runner by less than a second to take 18th. George gained two places up the final hill to finish second for us in 24th, while Tommy hung on to finish as our third runner in 31st. William (40th) nosed out his competitor by a second, while Parker (50th) gained 4 spots in the final 300 meters to complete our scoring top five.
HIGHLIGHTS: 1. As a team Priory finished 6th of 22 teams with our fifth man beating in the fifth men of all but two other squads. 2. 7 of our top 20 runners were freshmen or sophomores. 3. Jake ran 18:53 with George in 19:31 and Thomas in 19:50. 4. Convincingly beating all other Metro teams in the race. 5. 88 Priory runners completed the race even though the heat index did not drop below 103.
TO WORK ON: 1. Tightening the pack—1:47 separated our top five runners. 2. Making our move earlier in the race to stay nearer to the top runners. 3. Improving all times by at least 75 seconds on the Forest Park course, since it is much flatter and the temperature will be much cooler on Saturday.