Always the shortest (2 miles) and the fastest (winning time is usually near 10 minutes) race of the year, athletes like to run this race for three reasons. It gives them a chance to see how their training has gone; it gets them a free shirt; and there are always snacks at the end.
The JV boys race went first this year after being cancelled last year due to lightening. We had promoted several of our better JV runners to the varsity for this race, so this was an excellent opportunity for other runners to step up. A large field of over 225 runners accelerated off the line as the gun went off. Chris Hedlesky, Alex Figueras, Michael Potter and Liam Mardis led the Priory charge up the first hill and around the football field. A fast first 800 meters separated the field by quite a margin. That first long hill also stretched out the field, while Lafayette and Festus runners duked it out for the lead. Priory’s JV runners were packed together ahead of the middle of the crowd, but Liam Mardis was steadily moving up. Our freshmen, notably Joseph Pollnow, Jacob Conard, Colin Phillips, William Sandifer and Dominic Koltoff, were getting their first taste of a high school race and crediting themselves well. One loses sight of the runners for almost 800 meters as the athletes race along a large loop in the woods. When they emerged onto the top field after cresting a short, steep hill, you can see just who has the base needed to finish the race. Liam was right in the top 20 with Alex Figueras and Joseph Pollnow also gaining ground on the field. Unlike most races, athletes can see all of the 500 meters before them to the finish as they retrace their steps around the football and baseball fields. Responding to encouragement from the coaches and sprinting home, Liam inched his way into the top 15 with a time of 12:38. Six more runners broke 14 minutes with Alex Figueras (13:32), Joseph Pollnow (top freshman in 13:36), Chris Hedlesky (13:40), Joe Mathis (13:45), Michael Potter (13:56) and Jacob Conard (13:59) rounding out our top seven. Other underclassmen also gave a good showing with 10 additional runners under 15 minutes.
The Varsity race at Parkway is quite competitive as 4A and 3A teams race together. 4A teams like CBC, DeSmet, Lafayette, Eureka and Parkway Central dot the field of 15 teams, while only a few 3A teams like Festus, Priory, Borgia and St. Charles are present. That makes for good competition for the smaller schools and pushes them to faster times. This is no truer than at the start of the race as the top runners hit the mile mark in just under 5 minutes. Jake Drysdale and Thomas Lowell were both able to maintain this pace as they held their own in the top 25. Luke Lissner and Kyle Flores were running side by side just 15 seconds back, with sophomores Anthony O’Sullivan, Greg Rolwes and James Coyle creating a solid pack another 15 seconds behind. Andrew Latuda, fresh off a great preseason, was running right with them. By the time our runners emerged from the woods, Jake and Tommy had ratcheted it into high gear and continually gained on the field. Luke, with his long legs, began to open it up and he pulled Kyle along. A much improved runner this year, Anthony O’Sullivan had closed the gap between our four and five runners as he kicked it into a new gear. All of the varsity gunned it home, with our top eight nosing out many competitors by mere hundreds of seconds in the last fifty meters. Jake and Thomas finished in the top 20 (Jake at 16 in 11:10 and Thomas at 19 in 11:15), while Luke (34th, 11:43), Kyle (36th, 11:51) and Anthony (40th, 11:53) rounded out our top five. Greg Rolwes (12:29), James Coyle (12:31), and Andrew Latuda (12:33) created our second tight pack with impressive finishes in their first varsity race. Even Johnny Walker, who we promoted the evening before the race, managed to break 13 minutes with a time of 12:59.
After a scoring mix-up at the end of the race that had briefly left Rolwes, Coyle and Latuda off of the results sheet, it was announced that Priory had finished fifth of fifteen teams. Only powerhouse Festus, last year’s State Champions, managed to finish ahead of Priory as a 3A school. Priory finished ahead of Parkway Central, CBC, Ladue and Eureka even without George O’Sullivan, Drew Sewall and Alex Lowell. Things are looking good right now for the Rebels!